Thad Lewis, the 49ers’ No. 2 quarterback in Sunday’s 24-13 preseason-opening loss to the Houston Texans, is out for the season after tearing his ACL on a third-quarter run.
Lewis, 28, appeared to suffer the injury on a one-yard scramble. He came off the field after the third-down play and was examined by trainers. Coach Chip Kelly said the 49ers likely would have inserted rookie Jeff Driskel around that time anyway.
Lewis completed 12 of 21 passes for a team-high 97 yards, ran four times for 10 yards and suffered the 49ers’ only sack. He signed a one-year contract with the team in March.
“I don’t think this is a retirement thing for Thad by any stretch of the imagination,” Kelly said. “I’m just really disappointed for him because I thought he played well (Sunday) and was really starting to come on. But we would like him to stick around.”
Lewis engineered a 12-play drive in the second quarter that ended when running back DuJuan Harris fumbled at the 2-yard line. After the game, Lewis didn’t suspect a torn ACL. He thought the issue was with his left leg.
“I think we did great, man,” Lewis said. “We did awesome moving the ball down the field. Unfortunately, we had that fumble down there. Just like coach told us, you can’t win games when you lose the turnover battle. When you get down there, you have to score. We did a good job with that. There are a bunch of things we have to clean up. It’s the small things. If we do that, we should be fine.”
Lewis is the only 49er with experience in Kelly’s offense, having played with the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
Lewis’ injury makes Driskel, a sixth-round pick, the third quarterback behind Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, who is dealing with a sore shoulder and did not play Sunday. Driskel completed 4 of 12 attempts for 20 yards Sunday but ran for 61 yards.
The 49ers hope Kaepernick bounces back for joint practice sessions with the Denver Broncos in Englewood, Colo., on Wednesday and Thursday. The 49ers face the Broncos on Saturday.
Et cetera – Kelly would not disclose the injury that kept wide receiver DeAndre Smelter out of Sunday’s game but said it was a “week-to-week” issue and Smelter likely will not practice against Denver.
▪ While Michael Wilhoite started at inside linebacker against the Texans, Gerald Hodges is scheduled to start against the Broncos and Ray-Ray Armstrong the following week against the Green Bay Packers, linebackers coach Joe Bowden said.
▪ Kelly said he didn’t know whether defensive lineman Arik Armstead (shoulder) will practice against the Broncos. Armstead did not play Sunday.