Oct 17, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Thriving Carson Wentz leads Colts into San Francisco

Carson Wentz is proving to be a difference-maker for the Indianapolis Colts just as coach Frank Reich forecasted.

The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback will look to throw multiple touchdown passes for the fourth straight game when the Colts face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at Santa Clara, Calif.

Indianapolis acquired Wentz in the offseason and reunited him with Reich, who was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator for Wentz’s first two NFL seasons (2016-17).

Wentz looked like he was headed to stardom when he threw a career-high 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 2017 but his production went down after Reich departed to become the Colts’ coach.

Last season, Wentz tossed 16 touchdown passes and a career-worst 15 interceptions, and lost his starting gig to Jalen Hurts.

Now Indianapolis (2-4) is seeing what it envisioned when it made the trade. Wentz completed 25 of 35 passes for a career-best 402 yards in a 31-25 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 11 and averaged 20.3 yards per completion in last Sunday’s 31-3 whipping of the Houston Texans.

Overall, Wentz has 1,545 yards and nine touchdowns against one interception.

“This is the guy I knew in Philadelphia,” Reich said of Wentz. “He can be a big-play machine. What I’ve been more impressed with: I know he can make those plays, but I like the way he’s taking care of the football.”

The passing game will be without Parris Campbell (foot), while the status of fellow wideout T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) is uncertain. Hilton didn’t practice Wednesday.

Three-time Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson (ankle, knee) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and could be activated from injured reserve after missing three straight games.

“I think Quenton can be a quick return because of who he is and where he’s been,” Reich said Wednesday. “We think he’s been making good progress.”

The 49ers (2-3) are in the midst of a three-game losing streak as they come off a bye week.

Jimmy Garoppolo is in line to be the starting quarterback as he returns from a calf injury that caused him to miss the Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Garoppolo was limited in Wednesday’s practice but said the injury is improving.

“During the bye week, we made great strides,” Garoppolo said Wednesday. “It will get better every day. Right now, it feels great.”

Rookie Trey Lance started against Arizona but sprained his left knee. He missed practice on Wednesday and appears unlikely to play.

“It’s the same diagnosis and we were hoping (Lance) could go this week. Doesn’t look like it,” San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters. “He might have a chance at the end of the week but I’d be surprised if he’s not ready to go next week.”

Lance and Wentz are both products of FCS power North Dakota State.

Nate Sudfeld is in line to back up Garoppolo this week.

The 49ers have gone more than a month without a victory. That isn’t good in the NFC West, where they’re chasing the Cardinals (6-0) and Los Angeles Rams (5-1).

“We could easily be sitting at 5-0 right now,” 49ers left tackle Trent Williams said. “Obviously, we’re not. We’re 2-3 but we go back and revisit every loss, you can find some good in that. There were some things where we could have won some games but we didn’t take advantage of the situations.”

Williams sat out Wednesday’s practice due to elbow and ankle injuries.

The San Francisco defense, led by end Nick Bosa (five sacks), will be challenged by Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor, who had a season-high 145 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week. Taylor ranks fifth in the NFL with 472 rushing yards.

The Colts have won the past four meetings.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo on track to start for 49ers, Trey Lance unlikely

The San Francisco 49ers are expecting to have Jimmy Garoppolo behind center when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

Garoppolo was a limited practice participant on Wednesday as he recovers from a calf injury that caused him to miss the Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals prior to the team’s bye week.

“During the bye week, we made great strides,” Garoppolo said Wednesday of the calf. “It will get better every day. Right now, it feels great.”

Rookie Trey Lance served as starting quarterback against the Cardinals but sprained his left knee. He didn’t practice Wednesday and coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t sound encouraged about having his services.

“It’s the same diagnosis and we were hoping (Lance) could go this week. Doesn’t look like it,” Shanahan told reporters. “He might have a chance at the end of the week but I’d be surprised if he’s not ready to go next week.”

As for having Garoppolo on Sunday, Shanahan said, “I know he’s limited (but) we’ve got to make sure he can do everything. … I’m pretty optimistic about it.”

Nate Sudfeld will be prepared as the backup for Sunday’s game.

Garoppolo has passed for 925 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in four games this season. Lance also has seen action in four games and has passed for 354 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for 133 yards and one score.

Left tackle Trent Williams (elbow, ankle) and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee) also didn’t practice on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

San Francisco 49ers NFL linebacker Mychal Kendricks

Report: 49ers set to sign LB Mychal Kendricks

The San Francisco 49ers are set to bring back linebacker Mychal Kendricks, NFL Network reported.

Kendricks is in San Francisco to take his physical, per the report, and could sign Monday.

The 49ers and Kendricks reached an injury settlement after the nine-year veteran injured his toe during the preseason with the team. He visited the team two weeks ago.

Kendricks, 31, has yet to play in 2021. He played in just one game with Washington in 2020.

He has 548 career tackles and 19 sacks in 104 games (91 starts) with the Philadelphia Eagles (2012-17), Seattle Seahawks (2018-19) and Washington.

Kendricks was selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Eagles.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Trey Lance nurses minor knee sprain

Trey Lance joined fellow 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the trainer’s room after spraining his left knee Sunday, leaving his status uncertain for San Francisco’s next game.

The 49ers (2-3) are idle this week before returning to action Oct. 24 against the visiting Indianapolis Colts. It’s unclear if either of their top two QBs will be ready for that contest.

Lance, a rookie first-round draft pick, got hurt Sunday in the 49ers’ 17-10 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals but played the entire game. He filled in for Garoppolo, who was sidelined due to a right calf injury.

“It’s not a long-term injury,” Shanahan said of Lance. “He’ll have to stay here on the bye week and get treatment and everything, so we should have a good idea by the end of the next week whether he has got a chance for Indy or not. If he doesn’t, they told me it should be like a one- to two-week thing but possibly just one.”

No. 3 quarterback Nate Sudfeld could be forced into duty if both Garoppolo and Lance are unavailable.

“I was messing with Trey and Jimmy that now Jimmy just got some company so they’ll be here, the both of them, the whole week so they have the best chance to be ready for (next) Monday when we all get back,” Shanahan said. “But I’m pumped to have Nate here. He was ready to go (Sunday) — he’s been ready to go every week. He’s as big of a pro as it gets. So if his number is called versus Indy, I know he will be ready.”

Lance, making his first NFL start Sunday, completed 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. He also ran for a game-high 89 yards on 16 carries.

Shanahan said of his quarterback options, “Trey definitely has the ability to help us win games. I thought he was a big part of why we had a chance to win that game (Sunday). I just wish we could have played better around him, too. Not that he was perfect by any means, but he gave us a very good chance to win that game and I know he will give us a chance to win a lot going forward.

“But it’s more of a decision than just which player do you want to go with. There’s a whole team here, there’s a lot more that goes into it and these three losses that we’ve had in a row, the answer good or bad, is not just the quarterback.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) tackles San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals stay perfect, stuff 49ers in Trey Lance’s first start

The Arizona Cardinals spoiled rookie Trey Lance’s NFL starting debut with a first-quarter interception and four fourth-down stops Sunday afternoon to pave the way to a 17-10 victory over the visiting San Francisco 49ers in a defensive struggle.

Lance got the better of rival Kyler Murray in terms of total yards, but the Arizona star threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 5:13 remaining to allow the Cardinals (5-0) to retain their status as the league’s only unbeaten team.

James Conner scored Arizona’s only other touchdown on a 1-yard run just 5:58 into the game, after the Cardinals took advantage of Lance’s biggest mistake, an overthrown ball on just his second attempt that went straight to safety Budda Baker.

Deebo Samuel scored on a 13-yard run in the third quarter for the 49ers (2-3). When replacement kicker Joey Slye nailed a 47-yard field goal with 4:17 to play, San Francisco — playing without regular starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, star tight end George Kittle and kicker Robbie Gould — still had a chance.

But Murray hit Hopkins for 11 yards for a key first down and the Cardinals were able to run out the clock, wrapping up their first home win over the NFC West foe since 2018.

Lance, the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft, went 15-for-29 for 192 yards and added a game-high 89 rushing yards on 16 carries.

Murray got the better of the passing numbers, going 22-for-31 for 239 yards, but was hemmed in most of the day by the San Francisco defense and limited to one yard on seven runs.

The defensive play of the day was turned in early in the second quarter by Arizona linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who denied Lance inches from the goal line on a fourth-down play that was so violent, the Cardinal had to be taken to the locker room to check for a concussion. He was able to later return to the game.

Samuel had three catches for a team-high 58 yards to complement his TD run, while Elijah Mitchell rushed nine times for 43 yards for the 49ers, who outgained the Cardinals 338-304.

Hopkins finished with six catches for a game-high 87 yards for the Cardinals. Their leading rusher was wideout Rondale Moore, who scampered 38 yards on three carries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) jogs on the field during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers place TE George Kittle (calf) on injured reserve

The San Francisco 49ers placed two-time Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle on injured reserve Saturday with an ailing calf.

Kittle has been unable to practice all this week after being hampered by the injury since the season opener. He will miss the team’s next three games as a result of Saturday’s move.

Kittle has recorded 19 catches for 227 yards in four games this season. He has yet to score a touchdown for the 49ers (2-2), who face the undefeated Arizona Cardinals (4-0) on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

The 28-year-old was limited to eight games last season due to knee and foot injuries. He made the Pro Bowl in each of the previous two seasons, averaging 86.5 catches, 1,215 yards and five touchdowns.

Tanner Hudson has been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster to join fellow tight ends Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner.

Hudson, 26, has five receptions for 67 yards in 20 career games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019-20).

–Field Level Media

August 14, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warm up before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance to start for 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo ruled out

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance will make his first career start Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Arizona Cardinals after Jimmy Garoppolo was unable to practice Friday for the third straight day.

Garoppolo suffered a calf injury and did not play the second half of last Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Lance, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, took over for Garoppolo to start the second half and completed 9 of 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

On Thursday, coach Kyle Shanahan said on KNBR Radio that if Garoppolo “looks good” in practice Friday, “then he’ll have a shot. If he can’t, then we’ll shut him down.”

General manager John Lynch doubled down on that assessment Friday morning, saying on the same radio station that, “I think today is critical. If (Garoppolo doesn’t practice) today, then we go with Trey.”

Garoppolo was ruled out on the Niners’ official injury report Friday afternoon, but it was unclear if any more would need to be done, such as a move to injured reserve.

Star tight end George Kittle, who’s also dealing with a calf injury, was listed as doubtful. Defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw (knee) and Samson Ebukam (hamstring) are questionable.

Cornerback K’Waun Williams (calf) was already ruled out by Shanahan.

Lance’s opponent for his first career start, Arizona, is the only 4-0 team in the NFL.

He’ll become the final quarterback of the five drafted in the first round last spring to make his first start — joining Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville), Zach Wilson (New York Jets), Justin Fields (Chicago) and Mac Jones (New England).

–Field Level Media

October 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes the football against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) still has chance to play Sunday

Injured San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo missed another practice Thursday but has not yet been ruled out for the 49ers’ Sunday road game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that Garoppolo “wants to give it a go” Friday on his strained right calf.

“We’ll see him out on the practice field (Friday),” Shanahan said on KNBR Radio. “If he looks good, then he’ll have a shot. If he can’t, then we’ll shut him down.”

Rookie Trey Lance is poised to make his first NFL start for San Francisco (2-2) against the Cardinals (4-0) if Garoppolo is unable to go.

“If he feels good enough to where he can protect himself, he feels confident to step into all his throws, Jimmy’s been here long enough, and he’s not a guy who’s just sitting here and rehabbing all week and checked out,” Shanahan said on KNBR. “He’s a guy who, besides the practice field, you would think he was starting.”

Garoppolo sustained the injury in the first half of San Francisco’s 28-21 loss to Seattle last Sunday. Garoppolo completed 14 of 23 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the first half. The score was knotted 7-7 at halftime.

Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, took over at quarterback to start the second half.

Offensive tackle Trent Williams (shoulder) was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and is good to go Sunday. He missed Wednesday’s practice.

However, cornerback K’Waun Williams (calf) has been ruled out for Sunday, according to Shanahan.

Tight end George Kittle (calf) also missed his second consecutive practice Thursday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

49ers uncertain at QB with unbeaten Cardinals next

The player drafted to be the next Kyler Murray is likely to get a shot at defeating the superstar in his first NFL start Sunday afternoon when Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers visit Murray’s unbeaten Arizona Cardinals.

The No. 3 overall pick in the April draft, taken after traditional-style quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, Lance is expected to get the call this week with regular starter Jimmy Garoppolo dealing with a sore calf.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has not announced a starter, but has indicated if Garoppolo can’t practice by Friday, he’d need to switch starters.

Enter Lance, who had taken just seven snaps in San Francisco’s first three games before being pressed into action for the second half of last week’s 28-21 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The North Dakota State product threw a 76-yard touchdown pass during a 9-for-18, 157-yard effort in a come-from-behind bid after Seattle had gone up 21-7 in the third period.

Considered more of a runner than a passer, Lance has rushed 11 times for 44 yards and one touchdown in three games played.

With Garoppolo unable to practice Wednesday, Shanahan began the process of transitioning Lance into his starting quarterback. Among the goals in practice: Avoid “backyard ball.”

“Anytime you can have a guy who can create an off-schedule play and bide more time, that’s great,” Shanahan said. “When you can run around when people are playing soft zones, those only can hold up so long. But that starts turning into a little bit of backyard ball. You don’t want to force that type of game.”

49ers star left tackle Trent Williams also is questionable this week with a shoulder injury.

Lance’s rushing numbers are dwarfed by Murray’s 109 yards and three TDs on 23 carries during Arizona’s unbeaten start. The third-year star also has passed for 1,273 yards and nine touchdowns, with a 76.1 percent completion rate that is best in the NFL.

The duel between scrambling quarterbacks highlights a matchup of the NFC West’s top and bottom teams, with Arizona (4-0) having steamrolled opponents on the strength of a league-high 140 points, while San Francisco (2-2) has lost two straight at home after opening 2-0 on the road.

The 49ers have beaten the Cardinals each of the last two times they’ve met at Arizona, including 20-12 in Week 16 last year in a game in which Murray was held without a touchdown pass despite 50 attempts.

Coincidentally, it was San Francisco’s only win in four games at State Farm Stadium last year; the 49ers were prohibited from playing at their own Levi’s Stadium in December or January because of COVID restrictions.

The Cardinals’ offensive success this season has been the result of balance.

Two backs (Chase Edmonds and James Conner) have rushed for 172 or more yards, while five receivers (A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore and Maxx Williams) have hauled in passes for 179 or more yards.

Former collegiate pass-game whiz Kliff Kingsbury finally has his NFL offense humming, and he knows why.

“It makes it more difficult to defend, definitely, when a team’s preparing for you and they don’t know which guy to try to stop,” he said. “And it’s a credit to Kyler, a credit to those receivers that are playing at a high level, Maxx included, Chase. So it’s really been fun to see how the distribution has worked out so far.”

–Field Level Media

October 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) passes the football against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) misses practice

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo did not practice Wednesday due to a calf contusion.

“It’s better today, which is good news. Not enough to let him go, not enough to rule him out,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Doctors say to give him another day, so he has a chance.”

Also missing practice for the 49ers on Wednesday were tight end George Kittle, offensive lineman Trent Williams, defensive end Samson Ebukam and cornerback K’Waun Williams.

Garoppolo suffered the injury in the first half of San Francisco’s 28-21 loss to Seattle last Sunday.

Rookie Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in last April’s draft, took over at quarterback to start the second half. Lance had been used sparingly in special packages during the first three weeks of the season while Garoppolo remained the 49ers’ No. 1 quarterback.

Garoppolo completed 14 of 23 passes for 165 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the first half. The score was knotted 7-7 at halftime.

Lance finished 9-of-18 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns with 41 rushing yards, but could not overcome Seattle’s lead.

Also, Niners kicker Robbie Gould will miss several weeks with a groin injury he suffered during pregame warmups against Seattle. The team will be trying out kickers this week.

The 49ers (2-2) travel to Arizona (4-0) for an NFC West clash this Sunday.

–Field Level Media