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#pounditFriday, December 3, 2021

Stories by Grey Papke:

Kyle Shanahan drops hint about Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers future

Jimmy Garoppolo in pads

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has been adamantly behind Jimmy Garoppolo as the team’s starter in 2021. That could clearly change next season.

Shanahan spoke about the 49ers’ potential 2022 quarterback situation on Wednesday, and it sounded like good news for Trey Lance. Shanahan admitted that Garoppolo could be back in 2022, but made clear that Lance is viewed as the long-term option.

Garoppolo is under contract for 2022, but it will cost the 49ers essentially nothing to move on from him after June 1. Doing so and clearing over $25 million in cap space appears to be a no-brainer, particularly with Garoppolo putting together an unconvincing season.

On the other hand, Shanahan doesn’t seem totally sold on Lance yet either. The 49ers still believe in him, but may want to see more progress prior to 2022.

Photo: Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks on the field before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings share encouraging update on Everson Griffen situation

Everson Griffin

The disturbing situation involving Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has been resolved safely, according to the team.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Vikings said they had been informed by law enforcement that Griffen “came out of his home without incident and is now getting the care he needs.”

Griffen sent a series of disturbing social media posts earlier Wednesday. Law enforcement was dispatched to Griffen’s home, and the 33-year-old was refusing to come outside.

Griffen has struggled with mental health issues in the past. In 2018, he tried to break into a teammate’s home and escaped an ambulance when taken into custody. Griffen’s agent later said Griffen was not diagnosed with a serious mental health issue and that the incident was a result of stress.

Packers DB takes shot at Lions while praising Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford

Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos dropped a comment Wednesday that will probably leave a sour taste in the mouths of Detroit Lions fans.

The Packers are prepping for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams and a quarterback they know well. Matthew Stafford has played the Packers 20 times in his career during his time with the Detroit Lions, so longtime Green Bay players know him well.

Amos is one of them, and he has plenty of respect for Stafford. In his words, it was the Lions that held back Stafford and not vice versa.

“Matt Stafford was always good,” Amos said Wednesday, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. “He just played for the Lions.”

Painful but true. After all, Stafford and Bobby Layne are the only two quarterbacks in Lions franchise history to make the postseason in three separate seasons with the team. Now that he’s playing with a strong contender, Stafford is having one of the best years of his career, with 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions.

It’s clear the Packers won’t be taking Stafford lightly. After all, Aaron Rodgers was even more effusive in his praise for his former division rival.

LeBron James’ suspension will save Lakers significant money

LeBron James in his Lakers uniform

LeBron James will sit out one game over his altercation with Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart on Sunday. It’s never great for the Los Angeles Lakers to be without LeBron, but there is definitely a silver lining to this one.

James was suspended without pay for one game, meaning the Lakers won’t owe him a check for his missed game. That also means the Lakers will save over $500,000 against their luxury tax bill, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

That’s not huge savings in the grand scheme of things, as the Lakers face a luxury tax bill just shy of $46 million, according to Spotrac. Still, every little bit helps.

Still, the finances are a secondary consideration here. The Lakers want James on the court, not suspended. That’s part of why so many guys were looking out for him while Stewart was on the prowl.

Report: Florida and Virginia Tech eyeing same head coach candidate

Billy Napier wearing a headset

The Florida Gators and Virginia Tech Hokies may be competing with each other for one head coaching candidate.

Louisiana coach Billy Napier is poised to be a hot candidate for bigger schools as the coaching carousel heats up, and that already appears to be the case. Florida is interested in bringing him in to replace Dan Mullen, and is aware of interest from Virginia Tech as well, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.

The interest in Napier is no surprise. He has already won ten games in a row with the Ragin’ Cajuns for the third straight season, and his reputation is growing. He has no experience as a head coach in a power conference, though he has notably served as an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama.

Virginia Tech would seem unlikely to be able to match Florida in a head-to-head battle for a coach. That might be one reason they’re looking at other candidates as well. Either way, Napier appears likely to have the chance to land a better job if he wants it.

Photo: Cajuns head coach Billy Napier on sideline as Louisiana Ragin Cajuns take on the Miami University Redhawks in the Lending Tree Bowl in Mobile, AL. Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.
Cajuns Miami Lending Tree Bowlv4 3582

Justin Fields gets status update for Week 12

Justin Fields

The Chicago Bears won’t have Justin Fields for Thursday’s game, with Andy Dalton set for a Thanksgiving showcase instead.

Fields suffered a rib injury in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. While the issue does not sound exceptionally serious, the turnaround time is simply too short for Fields to play Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Fields has been thoroughly beaten up this season. He’s been sacked a league-worst 31 times in ten games, and took two more on Sunday against Baltimore before leaving the game. He has four touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season.

Dalton has struggled as well this season, but a game against the lowly Detroit Lions might be what he needs. It sounds like he may have started Thursday either way based on some of coach Matt Nagy’s recent comments.

Dodgers appear focused on just 1 free agent shortstop

Corey Seager with a bat

There is plenty of interest in the list of big-name free agent shortstops, but what about one of the teams at risk of losing one of those players?

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have an opening at shortstop, as Corey Seager is among the highly-touted free agents on the market. The Dodgers are trying to bring back Seager, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, but are not showing interest in any other shortstops.

As noted, the Dodgers traded for Trea Turner last year, who is a very capable shortstop. It’s not the end of the world if Seager leaves, but they clearly love Seager and want to keep him in the fold.

The other obvious option if the Dodgers wanted a big-name shortstop would be Carlos Correa. However, Correa is one of the faces of a Houston Astros team that beat out the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, which has become infamous due to the team’s sign-stealing scandal. Correa’s history does not seem to be a problem for one team, but it might be too much for the Dodgers, especially if they can get by at shortstop without him.

Photo: Kim Clement-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic may miss more time after aggravating knee injury

Luka Doncic bringing the ball up the floor

Luka Doncic has not played in a week after injuring his knee and ankle last Monday. Just as he looked to be on the verge of a return, the issue appears to have gotten worse.

Doncic took part in a five-on-five scrimmage on Monday and appeared to be moving closer to a return to action. However, reporters that were conducting a post-practice interview with coach Jason Kidd heard Doncic yelp in pain and retreat to the bleachers, where his left knee was iced and bandaged.

Given how abruptly the issue came about, the Mavericks obviously didn’t have much of an update. It certainly seems that Doncic aggravated something, and his status for Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be in more doubt.

Doncic has already missed three games with the ailment. He got off to a slow start to the season and his shooting percentages had been down, much to his frustration, but he had started to pick it up prior to suffering the injury.

Photo: May 28, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in action during game three between the Clippers and the Mavericks in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports