SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo did his best to try to play through an injured right calf before finally calling it quits at halftime.
Now Garoppolo is dealing with another early season injury that could force him to miss time.
“I thought I could gut it out. I tried to for the first half,” Garoppolo said after the San Francisco 49ers lost 28-21 to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
"It’s just tough, man. I’ve been in this situation too many times. It’s getting real old. It’s just one of those things that’s part of the business though.”
Garoppolo has began the season as a starting quarterback five times in his career and has now gotten hurt before the end of the fourth game in four of those.
He hurt his shoulder in Week 2 in 2016 when he was supposed to start the first four games with Tom Brady suspended in New England. He then blew out his knee in Week 3 of his first full season as starter in San Francisco in 2018, went down with a high ankle sprain in Week 2 last year and now is hurt again and said he hopes it's only for a “couple of weeks.”
If Garoppolo is forced to miss more time, his return could depend in part on the play of rookie Trey Lance. The Niners (2-2) traded three first-round picks to take Lance third overall in the draft and are counting on him to take over the spot at some point.
“I thought he ran the ball well, hit some passes, obviously missed some passes,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He was in a tough situation there when we were down two scores. He did a good job moving the chains a couple of times with his legs, but it looked like a typical first game.”
Garoppolo's performance was a bit shaky as well as he struggled to step into his throws after getting hurt. He threw a 21-yard TD pass to Ross Dwelley on the opening drive but couldn't drive San Francisco to another score and finished 14 for 23 for 165 yards, a TD and an interception.
Lance, who played just seven snaps the first three weeks, took over in the second half when Garoppolo was unable to continue. He was off-target on his first two passes on the opening drive but made some plays after that.
“I would say after the first drive, he kind of calmed down and you can see he’s pretty good and mobile with his feet, so when the play breaks down, he’s able to be mobile and move the ball for us,” said receiver Deebo Samuel, who caught two TD passes from Lance.
Lance finished 9 for 18 for 157 yards, two TDs and 41 yards rushing. He took advantage of a blown coverage to hit Samuel for a 76-yard score late in the third quarter and then led an 80-yard drive late that was capped by an 8-yard TD pass to Samuel.
But San Francisco didn't cross midfield and had only two first downs on the other four drives with Lance in the game.
“I think there were plays, good and bad, throughout the half," he said. "I missed some big ones, missed some easy ones, missed some checkdowns. Just definitely a few plays that I want back. I’m going to go back and watch it tonight and I think I’ll learn a lot from that.”
The loss is the second straight for the Niners, who now find themselves two games behind Arizona in the ultra-competitive NFC West heading into next week's game at the Cardinals.
But the Niners see no reason to panic just four games into the season.
“I’m still really excited. The sky’s not falling, there’s not a bear in the building," tight end George Kittle said. “I thought we played really, really well throughout the first half. Just couldn’t execute down the stretch, couldn’t finish those drives out. And then we had a couple of turnovers that you can’t give to a Seattle Seahawks team like that with Russell Wilson.”
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