SANTA CLARA — The 49ers have reached a crisis moment before their season has even begun.
Jimmy Garoppolo does not seem ready to start the regular season opener Sept. 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s recovering from a torn ACL and, while the team says he has recovered physically, he doesn’t seem mentally recuperated yet.
Garoppolo looked timid last Monday night against the Denver Broncos. Didn’t step into his throws, and dove away from pressure. Threw six passes and the Broncos tipped two of them, intercepted one and almost picked off another.
Garoppolo finished the game with zero passing yards and a quarterback rating of 0.0. When he walked off the field, he looked stunned, a look he had in training camp when he threw 10 interceptions in 15 practices, including five consecutive picks in just one day.
Garoppolo is expected to play the entire first half of the 49ers’ preseason “dress rehearsal” game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. This will be the 49ers’ best chance to seriously evaluate Garoppolo and determine if he’s ready to start the season opener in Tampa, or if he needs more time.
Here’s what to watch for Saturday night when the 49ers play the Chiefs.