The San Francisco 49ers' playoff hopes are slim, but they aren't dead just yet. Heading into today's game against the Dallas Cowboys, they will try to stay alive while playing once again without two of their big-name players -- quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle.
This leads to the question: Could they return this season?
Garoppolo, who went on injured reserve Nov. 5 with a high-ankle sprain, hasn't practiced yet, and a source said he won't play next week against the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, Garoppolo is considered unlikely to play again this season.
While no one has completely ruled out him playing in 2020, there is still an injury risk for Garoppolo to go out on the field and play on the ankle that is still healing. Perhaps if San Francisco still had a chance at the playoffs in Week 17, Garoppolo would have a shot. Otherwise, it's hard to imagine.
If there is nothing to play for, considering the offseason of uncertainty that faces Garoppolo, him staying healthy benefits all parties.
As for Kittle -- who returned to practice this week -- it's slightly more complicated. He was cleared by doctors to practice and after a week of knocking some rust off while playing scout team, he appears ready to play.
While there is risk for Jimmy G's injury, there doesn't seem to be any for Kittle, who is returning from a broken bone in his foot. But that doesn't necessarily put him on the field.
One source said simply, "A lot will go into that decision." In other words, if there is nothing to play for, is it worth putting Kittle on the field and possibly risking him beginning 2021 not completely healthy? The team knows Kittle is pushing to play. But it may hold him back to protect him from himself.
With two weeks to go, it's possible the 49ers may not see either of their top offensive weapons until 2021.