Doctor: Health could remain hangup in potential Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Kyle Madson
Niners Wire

The timeline seemed to be pretty straightforward for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

His offseason shoulder surgery would put him on track to start throwing in late June or early July. That would give him time to throw for teams that could potentially vie for his services in the trade market. He could conceivably become a commodity once a team evaluated him.

However, there may be more to the health equation than simply throwing during workouts.

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Dr. Nirav Pandya, an Associate Professor of UCSF Orthopedic Surgery, said in a radio interview on 95.7 the Game in San Francisco that Garoppolo’s health post-surgery will remain a question mark until he’s able to play in games.

That first game may not be right around the corner.

“He’s right around four months post-surgery, which for most kinds of shoulder surgeries that quarterbacks get, you’ll start throwing,” Pandya said during the interview. “But it’s very slow progress. You’re kind of starting out with low repetition, low velocity, low distance over 4-5 weeks, increasing the number of reps and how hard you’re throwing.

So, I think number one in the first several weeks of returning to throw you’re looking at: Is he developing soreness? Are his mechanics different, and what does his accuracy look like, particularly if he can get into scrimmages? And then the tough thing is that there’s throwing, and then there’s contact. And that contact comes more at six months typically with these injuries. ... They have to make sure he can complete the throwing program, and number two can he take contact?”

Team doctors can evaluate Garoppolo in the days following his workouts, but vital time will be missed if he’s waiting six months until he first takes contact. Garoppolo had surgery in early March, which puts him out for the entire preseason and has him first taking contact right as the season starts.

Any team that wants Garoppolo would be tacking a significant gamble since there’s no way of identifying how well his shoulder will hold up in a game situation.

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Even if Garoppolo gets through his throwing program and teams feel good about what they see in that environment, Dr. Pandya said plenty of post-surgery evaluation still needs to take place.

“But I think the tough thing is where you’re gonna see subtle changes in terms of how his shoulder may feel after his surgery, is when he’s in a game situation,” Pandya said. “You’re talking about is he gonna release a split second later? Is his accuracy on these long throws going to be thrown off? So there is a little bit of a jump that he’d have to take, but I think the fact that number one, just seeing him throw will be good, and number two, looking at his mechanics. And three, is there soreness? Is he gonna have to take some days off because his shoulder isn’t responding?”

This doesn’t necessarily mean Garoppolo won’t have suitors, but if that timeline is correct it’s hard to imagine a team simply plugging Garoppolo in as their Week 1 starter, even if his shoulder is healthy enough to get through training camp. They’ll want to see how that shoulder reacts the first time he’s tackled by a defensive end.