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Trey Lance on being named San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback

While San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s definitive declaration that this team now belongs to quarterback Trey Lance might have come as news to outside observers, it was just another day at the office for Lance himself.

“Honestly, the only difference is I was hoping you guys would stop asking me about it all the time,” Lance said Thursday. “For me, it wasn’t really a moment or anything like that. I’ve been excited. I’ve been preparing to play since the day I got here, since the day I got drafted. So, obviously excited for this year but nothing has really changed this whole offseason.”

Shanahan made that statement Tuesday, the day the Niners reported for the start of this year’s training camp. And though it had long been expected that Lance was ready to step in as the starter, Shanahan had previously declined to say it in such certain terms.

But with training camp’s arrival and the pending departure of incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who has passed a physical as he recovers from right shoulder surgery, nobody had much reason to further delay the unavoidable.

After taking all of the reps with the starting offense in the offseason program, Lance arrived at this camp knowing that the job was his and that every practice is a chance to prepare to lead a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

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For right now, the objective for the Niners is to reinforce the fundamentals of Shanahan’s offense before turning an eye toward some of the additional skills — such as running — that Lance brings to the table.

“There’s certain plays you have to get good at just to succeed in this league and to move the ball,” Shanahan said. “And then what can Trey do differently than we’ve had? I do believe Trey is a threat to run at any time, so knowing that he is a threat to run at any time, that definitely changes things. That gives another element that defenses have to worry about.”

Lance’s first two days of practice as the confirmed starter have come with some ups and downs.

On Wednesday, he took 16 snaps in team drills, operating mostly from the pocket and appearing to be in control as he completed 5 of 7 passes during team drills.

On Thursday, Lance had a few more hiccups, including an interception he threw right to free safety Jimmie Ward and a couple of misfires to open targets that fell incomplete.

Lance was pleased with how the offense rebounded, and he drew large cheers from fans when he scrambled for a long run down the left sideline and again when he found receiver Brandon Aiyuk between two defenders on a deep out late in the session.

Despite the miscues, Lance stated he felt like Thursday was better than Wednesday, though he acknowledged the turnovers have to stop (the offense had three other interceptions in addition to Lance’s).

If nothing else, Lance can move forward confidently knowing he’s free to make and learn from mistakes without looking over his shoulder.

“Last year I was definitely in a different spot mentally, I would say,” Lance said. “Just feeling a lot more confident this year coming in knowing what I’m doing, knowing the offense a lot better, knowing the guys a lot better, having been around this organization and coaching staff for a year, I think it will be a great thing.”

As for Garoppolo, he has been in the building and continuing his throwing program but is not attending practice as the Niners seek a trade partner for him. Lance said he saw Garoppolo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s nothing weird at all,” Lance said. “I’ve never had anything I could possibly say that’s bad about Jimmy. He’s been a big brother to me since the day I came in, and he could have made things hell for me last year. He didn’t. He helped me out with everything so I’m super excited to see him healthy, I’m super excited to see him throwing again and super excited to see what he does.”

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San Francisco 49ers give Jimmy Garoppolo’s agents permission to seek trade

The San Francisco 49ers have given Jimmy Garoppolo’s agents permission to seek a trade involving the veteran quarterback, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Garoppolo, who is recuperating from offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, has been cleared to start practicing as the Niners prepare for the start of training camp next week, a team source told Schefter.

The Niners are still expected to exercise caution this summer with Garoppolo, who underwent the surgery in March — a procedure that delayed San Francisco’s efforts to trade him.

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledged in May that Garoppolo was “most likely to be traded” but then noted that a trade was “not a guarantee.”

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Second-year quarterback Trey Lance has worked as the starter during San Francisco’s offseason program while Garoppolo, who has been the Niners’ starter since late in the 2017 season, has spent most of his offseason rehabbing in Southern California. Garoppolo was excused from the team’s mandatory minicamp in early June after not taking part in the team’s offseason conditioning program.

Veterans are planned to report to Niners training camp Tuesday.

Garoppolo, 30, is entering the final season of his contract and is scheduled to count $26.95 million against the 2022 salary cap. That deal involved a no-trade clause for the 2021 season only, and the 49ers have the right to trade him to any team of their choosing.

An acquiring team would take on a $24.2 million salary if it traded for Garoppolo right now, but that salary is not guaranteed and interested teams could potentially work with him on a contract extension that knocks down the salary number in exchange for guarantees.

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San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo to soon begin throwing after offseason shoulder surgery

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s timetable for throwing remains on schedule after offseason shoulder surgery, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Saturday.

The expectation has been Garoppolo, who had the procedure on his right shoulder in March, will throw over the next few weeks after he’s been cleared, and that plan stays in place.

Once this happens and Garoppolo can pass a physical, the trade market for him could heat up.

Trey Lance has worked as the 49ers’ starting quarterback during the offseason program while Garoppolo, who has been the Niners’ starter since late in the 2017 season, has spent most of his offseason rehabbing in Southern California.

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Garoppolo was excused from the team’s mandatory minicamp in early June after not taking part in the team’s offseason conditioning program.

Veteran Nate Sudfeld has been the team’s No. 2 quarterback behind Lance in OTAs with rookie Brock Purdy in the No. 3 spot.

Garoppolo is entering the final campaign of his contract and is scheduled to count $26.95 million against the 2022 salary cap. That deal included a no-trade clause for the 2021 season only, and the 49ers have the right to trade him to any team of their choosing, if they wish.

An acquiring team would take on a $24.2 million salary if it traded for Garoppolo right now, but that salary is not guaranteed and interested teams could, potentially, work with him on a contract extension that knocks down the salary number in exchange for guarantees.

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Center Alex Mack announces retirement after 13 NFL seasons

After 13 NFL seasons, Mack announced his retirement via Twitter and in conjunction with the 49ers on Friday morning, bringing an end to a career that included seven Pro Bowl selections, three second-team All-Pro nods and a spot on the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.

“After 13 seasons and 204 games for 3 teams, I have decided to hang up my cleats,” Mack wrote on Twitter. “I am so grateful to the game of football and everything it has given me. From the very start it helped shape who I am and taught me life lessons. I started to play football because it was fun and that never changed…

“I always tried to hold up my end of the bargain and never let anyone doubt my effort.”

Mack, 36, earned his final Pro Bowl appearance last season, his only year spent in San Francisco. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in March of 2021 in a move that not only reunited him for the third time with coach Kyle Shanahan — the pair also worked together in Atlanta and Cleveland — but was something of a full-circle moment for Mack, who played at the University of California in nearby Berkeley.

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At the time, Mack signed a three-year contract but made it clear that he was playing on a year-to-year basis and would evaluate whether to continue at the end of each offseason. Mack stayed committed to that this offseason, leaving many wondering what he was going to do all offseason.

At the NFL owners meetings in late March, Niners general manager John Lynch expressed optimism that Mack was going to return, saying that “all signs are him coming back and being a part of us.”

Lynch’s tone changed dramatically just before the draft about a month later when he stated that he would let Mack make his own announcement when he was ready.

On Thursday, Mack and the Niners agreed to a reworked contract that dropped his base salary for 2022 from $5 million to $1.12 million and from $3.35 million to $1.165 million in 2023. The move saved the 49ers more than $4 million in cap space this season, money they quickly used to sign their nine-player draft class.

On Friday, Mack made his retirement official and the 49ers released a statement thanking Mack for his contributions.

“The center position in the NFL is the heartbeat of an offense and Alex’s intellect, consistency, love for the game and professional approach made a lasting impression over the course of his 13 NFL seasons,” Lynch and Shanahan said in a statement. “Congratulations to Alex on a highly decorated NFL career and we wish him nothing but success in his post-playing career.”

Mack was initially the 21st overall pick by Cleveland in the 2009 NFL draft. He earned three Pro Bowl nods and was a second-team All-Pro once in seven seasons with the Browns before landing three Pro Bowl berths and two second-team All-Pro spots in five years with the Falcons.

The 49ers now find themselves looking for a replacement at a position Shanahan values greatly in his offense.

Internal veteran options include Jake Brendel, who has been working with the starters during the offseason program, and Daniel Brunskill, who started at right guard last season but played some center in 2020.

San Francisco also has a trio of rookies — Nick Zakelj, Dohnovan West and Jason Poe — who could factor into the mix, though Shanahan has traditionally been reluctant to play someone inexperienced at center.

Outside of the building, veteran JC Tretter is the best center on the free-agent market, though he comes with questions about a knee issue that prevented him from practicing much of last season.

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Star receiver Deebo Samuel asks San Francisco 49ers to trade him

For the past few months, the San Francisco 49ers have repeatedly stated they’d like to keep wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a long time. On Wednesday, it became clear that Samuel and the Niners don’t quite see things the same way.

Samuel, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington that he has asked the 49ers to trade him. Samuel declined to offer specific reasons for requesting the trade but acknowledged that he has informed the team of his desire to leave.

That comes on the heels of what has become an increasingly turbulent relationship between the two sides following Samuel’s breakout 2021 season. In recent weeks, Samuel has scrubbed any mention of the 49ers from his Instagram account, unfollowed the team and removed most photos of him in the team’s uniform from the platform. When the Niners opened their offseason conditioning program on Tuesday, Samuel did not attend, and sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he was not expected to participate in any on-field work during the voluntary portion of the offseason program.

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Samuel’s trade request comes at a time when the salaries for wide receivers have skyrocketed.

The Las Vegas Raiders gave Davante Adams $28.5 million per season on an extension after trading for him, and the Miami Dolphins rewarded Tyreek Hill with a contract averaging $30 million per season one week later after acquiring him from the Kansas City Chiefs. Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs also received a lucrative contract extension recently.

Despite all of that, at every chance this offseason, San Francisco general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have stated they intend to keep Samuel with the team well into the future. At the NFL owners meetings at the end of March, both sounded optimistic that deals for Samuel and defensive end Nick Bosa would be forthcoming.

“Like I’ve long said, those guys are going to be a part of us for a long, long time,” Lynch said. “They’re fantastic players. They’re very much at the core of who we are and they’re fabulous players, fabulous people and a big part of who we are.”

Shanahan said he wasn’t involved in the negotiations but was also adamant that Samuel remains a foundational player for the franchise.

“But we need to figure it out,” Shanahan said. “Those are guys who have earned a lot, two guys that I’m hoping that they are Niners forever, or at least as long as I’m here.”

After the 49ers lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, Samuel was asked about staying with the Niners long term on a new contract.

“That is not my call,” Samuel said then. “That’s out of my hands.”

But Samuel now seems to be taking matters into his own hands. The 49ers have been open to working out a deal with Samuel, but those talks have not gone anywhere. In the meantime, there are other wideouts who are also still in line for big-money deals.

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Strong fourth quarter carries San Francisco 49ers past Green Bay Packers, into NFC Championship Game

The San Francisco 49ers simply will not go away.

The same Niners that were once 3-5 and headed for a long offseason full of questions are now headed to the NFC Championship match for the second time in three seasons.

To get there, San Francisco had to pull out the type of late-game magic that has been a hallmark of its late-season surge to the playoffs. The result was a wild 13-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night at Lambeau Field.

The 49ers await the winner of Sunday’s NFC divisional game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams.

After a disappointing offensive performance, the Niners pieced together the drive they needed at the biggest moment, with wide receiver Deebo Samuel taking a handoff nine yards for a first down on third-and-7 at Green Bay’s 38.

Samuel’s run set up place-kicker Robbie Gould’s winning 45-yard field goal as time expired.

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“This team has been through a lot,” San Francisco tight end George Kittle said. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity. We’ve dealt with a lot. We’ve lost games by making mistakes. We’ve won games dirty. This is a gritty team. It’s a salty team, and we just keep bouncing back.”

That toughness has been on display a lot over the past couple of months.

The Niners went 7-2 over their final nine games to get into the postseason.

That run culminated in a 17-point comeback triumph over the Rams in the final week that clinched a playoff spot.

The Niners went 7-2 over their final nine games to get into the postseason. That run culminated in a 17-point comeback triumph over the Rams in the final week that clinched a playoff spot.

It continued versus the Dallas Cowboys last weekend, when the Niners nearly coughed up a 16-point advantage but managed to squeeze by to advance to the divisional round against the Packers.

But Green Bay presented a unique challenge, one that for most of Saturday looked like it would be too much for the 49ers to overcome. As they’ve done for most of the past 2½ months, the Niners didn’t flinch.

It has become the signature trait of a team that is not as dominant as the 2019 juggernaut but that makes up for its shortcomings with an unrelenting will to win.

The Niners became the first team since the 1988 Buffalo Bills to block a punt and a field goal in the same playoff game. San Francisco also became just the fourth team to win a postseason contest without an offensive touchdown since 2000.

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QB Jimmy Garoppolo has ‘slightly’ sprained throwing shoulder, should be OK for Saturday vs. Green Bay Packers

Already playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered another injury in Sunday’s triumph over the Dallas Cowboys.

This time, Garoppolo is dealing with what coach Kyle Shanahan called Monday a “slightly” sprained right (throwing) shoulder. According to Shanahan, the injury occurred in the second quarter.

Garoppolo joins linebacker Fred Warner (sprained right ankle) and defensive end Nick Bosa (concussion) on the list of key Niners nursing injuries to watch this week as the team prepares for Saturday night’s NFC divisional-round game versus the Green Bay Packers.

The good news, according to Shanahan, is that Warner and Garoppolo should be ready to go versus Green Bay. In fact, Shanahan believes Garoppolo will be able to practice when the team resumes those sessions on Tuesday.

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“He should be fine for practice,” Shanahan said. “He had to play through some pain and stuff, but he ended up checking out all right. Just a slight shoulder sprain and he should be good for [Tuesday’s] practice.”

Warner sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter and was writhing in pain and grabbing at it, which put a scare into the Niners and their fans. Further testing on Monday, however, revealed it was a low ankle sprain, which means he should also be OK this week, though it’s unclear if he will resume practice right away.

“We’ll evaluate and see as the week goes,” Shanahan stated. “The initial scare was that it could have been high, so we got good news on that. He had something similar to this earlier in the year, but we’ll evaluate him on Wednesday, which I think is Tuesday this week.”

Earlier Monday, Warner had indicated that his injury wasn’t as serious as first feared, tweeting: “Sorry for the scare yesterday everyone, I appreciate everyone showing love and support for me and the fellas. We’ll be good to go. Huge win, onto the next.”

Bosa’s status is more unclear because he must clear the necessary steps of the concussion protocol in order to play.

Bosa suffered his concussion just before halftime of San Francisco’s 23-17 win against Dallas.

Shanahan said he did not get a chance to speak to Bosa on Sunday night or Monday morning but got positive reports from those who did.

“We’re being pretty optimistic with it,” Shanahan said. “I’ve seen that a few times and he seems like he’s in a pretty good spot right now, but I’m not going to be the one who judges that.”

In addition to Garoppolo, Bosa and Warner, Niners defensive end Jordan Willis suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cowboys, which puts his status in doubt against the Packers.

With a short week and less time for their injured players to heal, Shanahan said the Niners will have a lighter schedule this week. They will have a late start time on Tuesday, followed by less strenuous practices on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Green Bay.

“I think the biggest thing about this week is going to be about recovery,” Shanahan said. “So, the more sleep we can do, we’ll slow most of the stuff down. I doubt we get many full-speed reps in this week. … [We’ll] make it pretty easy on the guys this week.”

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49ers hang on late for 23-17 wild-card victory over Cowboys

Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers have started another playoff run after hanging on in a frantic wild-card finish versus Dallas.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will have to keep waiting for that elusive deep trip in the postseason.

San Francisco’s versatile receiver ran 26 yards for a touchdown the play after an interception by Prescott, and the 49ers held on for a 23-17 triumph over the Cowboys on Sunday.

The Cowboys had a final opportunity with 32 seconds remaining and were at the San Francisco 41 with 14 seconds to go when Prescott took off up the middle intending to slide and spike the ball for a final play.

But Dallas didn’t get the snap off from the 24 until after the clock hit 0:00. After a brief delay, referee Alex Kemp announced the game was over.

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The 49ers overcame an interception by Jimmy Garoppolo when they led by 13 in the fourth quarter.

Prescott ran for a touchdown to get within a score, and had a chance to drive Dallas to a go-ahead score. But the 49ers got a stop at midfield when Prescott’s desperation fourth-down pass was just out of the receiver Cedrick Wilson’s reach.

After a 14th penalty from the NFL’s most-penalized team in the regular season that helped San Francisco run out most of the clock — and the frantic final seconds as Dallas tried for the victory — the 49ers (11-7) clinched their first playoff victory at the Cowboys in a storied postseason rivalry.

Now they head to Green Bay for a divisional game, looking for another trip to the NFC championship match.

The wait for Dallas (12-6) to get that far in the playoffs will reach at least 27 years after another first-game flameout in the postseason for Prescott, the second in three trips over six seasons for the star quarterback. It was his first playoff game since signing a $40-million-a-year contract in the offseason.

The 49ers were in control in the fourth quarter, but not leaning on the running game they figured could carry them to a win when Garoppolo threw an interception to Anthony Brown that set up Prescott’s 7-yard scoring run.

Garoppolo’s mistake wasn’t long after Prescott was picked off at the Dallas 26 by K’Waun Williams and Samuel ran untouched on a cutback up the middle to the end zone on the next play for a 23-7 lead.

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San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has torn UCL, fracture in right thumb

The San Francisco 49ers resumed practice Monday after a long holiday weekend without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

That’s because Garoppolo suffered what a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter was a torn ulnar collateral ligament of the right thumb, as well as a fracture in the same thumb, early in Thursday’s 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. His status for Sunday’s match versus the Houston Texans remains unclear.

Garoppolo did not participate in the Niners’ Monday “bonus” practice, which came after the team went its separate ways for the three days following the loss in Nashville.

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance took all of the work with the starters in Monday’s session, which coach Kyle Shanahan described as a walk-through. According to Shanahan, Garoppolo suffered the injury when Titans defensive tackle Denico Autry sacked him for a 7-yard loss with 3:56 left in the second quarter.

Garoppolo finished the game but struggled with a pair of costly interceptions and missed a would-be touchdown throw to open fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the first half.

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Shanahan indicated that Garoppolo was hampered by the thumb on the Niners’ first offensive play of the third quarter, a pass intended for receiver Deebo Samuel that sailed into the waiting arms of Titans safety Amani Hooker for an interception that Tennessee turned into the game-tying touchdown.

Garoppolo concluded 26-of-35 for 322 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for a 44.4 QBR.

“We knew his thumb was hurting him,” Shanahan said. “We thought he jammed it sometime in the game, so he tells us right when he comes to the bench.”

With Garoppolo considered day-to-day, Lance could be in line for his first extended work with the starters since before a Week 5 loss to Arizona. And if Garoppolo is unable to heal well enough to play Sunday, Lance would make his second career start versus Houston.

Shanahan indicated the decision will come down to not only how Garoppolo feels but also how he looks throwing the ball if he progresses to that stage. As for Lance, Shanahan stated the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft has made good progress while running the scout team The coach pointed to improved decision-making and accuracy, among other things.

“This last month of Trey has been his best consecutive four weeks at practice since we’ve had him,” Shanahan said.

“He’s had a number of good days and he’s had some bad days like most guys do, but as far as his consistency and stuff, I feel this last month has been his best.”

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Titans rally from 10 down at half, edge 49ers 20-17

Coach Mike Vrabel heard that his banged-up Tennessee Titans were being written off after the left side of their offensive line was ruled out a day before hosting the streaking San Francisco 49ers.

Then they lost their backup left tackle to a positive COVID-19 test Thursday morning, forcing them to use their 52nd different starter and 88th player this campaign.

“We’re not dead yet,” Vrabel said. Alive and kicking.

Randy Bullock booted a 44-yard field goal with 4 seconds left and the Titans rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the 49ers 20-17 Thursday night. The Titans (10-5) are a win or a Colts’ loss away from clinching their second consecutive AFC South title despite losing three of their past four games to drop from the AFC’s top seed to third. Indianapolis plays Arizona on Saturday. Tennesse moved to second in the AFC.

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Ryan Tannehill threw for just 40 yards in the first half but finished with 209 yards and a TD for Tennessee. A.J. Brown caught 11 passes for 145 yards hours after being activated off injured reserve, and his 18-yard TD catch gave Tennessee a 17-10 lead early in the fourth.

“It was all on us and we just had to make a play,” Brown said. “Then we had to make another play. That was the mindset. Just come out here and make plays, so that’s what we did.”

The Titans also picked off two passes, sacked Jimmy Garoppolo twice and forced the Niners to turn it over on downs once.

San Francisco had one final chance. Garoppolo completed a 16-yard pass to Pro Bowl receiver Deebo Samuel, who fumbled, starting three laterals before Jayon Brown finally tackled Brandon Aiyuk to end the game.

The 49ers (8-7) lost for the second time in seven games as they try to hold onto a wild-card berth in the NFC. Their loss ensured a playoff berth for Dallas, which can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Washington on Sunday night.

Garoppolo tied it with a 2-yard TD pass to Brandon Aiyuk with 2:20 left, a score set up by a 56-yard catch-and-run by Samuel down to the Tennessee 6.

This was the Niners’ first loss after leading by 10 or more at halftime under coach Kyle Shanahan — they had been 18-0 in the regular season and playoffs with those leads. They hadn’t blown such a lead since Week 14 of 2016 to the Jets under Chip Kelly.

Garoppolo knows the Niners had their chances.

“It’s tough when you let one like this slip away,” Garoppolo said. The Niners led 10-0 at halftime, their first time shutting out an opponent in the first half since the 2019 NFC title game against Green Bay. That also marked four straight scoreless quarters for the Titans.

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