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Sources: San Francisco 49ers optimistic Jimmy Garoppolo plays Jan. 9 vs. Rams

The San Francisco 49ers are optimistic that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is inactive for Sunday's home game against the Houston Texans due to a torn UCL in his right thumb, will return for the Jan. 9 regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Niners running back Elijah Mitchell, meanwhile, is returning Sunday following a three-game absence because of a knee injury.

Garoppolo did not participate in any of the team's four workouts this week, but head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Friday that he was "holding out hope" for Garoppolo to start against the Texans, saying, "He's got a chance this week, so he'll have a better chance next week."

According to Shanahan, the Niners' medical staff made it clear that Garoppolo would have a better chance to heal and potentially play this week the longer he held out from throwing. So, instead of testing the injured thumb in practice, Garoppolo was held out altogether.

Rookie Trey Lance is making his second NFL start Sunday. Beyond getting all the starting reps in practice, Lance was made available to the media on Friday, his first interview session with local media since after his start against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 10.

Nate Sudfeld, who was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster with one of the 49ers' COVID-19 replacement designations, will back up Lance.

Shanahan said Mitchell had his best day since the injury on Thursday and had no setback on Friday.