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San Francisco 49ers star tight end George Kittle will not suit up for the team’s preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
According to Tracy Sandler of Fangirl Sports Network, Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that Kittle will miss a week with an adductor injury.
Kittle, 29, has struggled with injuries during his career and last played a full season back in 2018. He’s been hampered by foot, knee and hamstring injuries. In 2021, he missed three games with a calf injury, and a groin issue caused him to miss the first game of the 2022 season, plus he missed a subsequent game.
When healthy, Kittle has been one of the most productive tight ends in football. The four-time Pro Bowler and 2019 first-team All-Pro selection caught 71 passes for 910 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games in 2021, and he followed that up with 60 grabs for 765 yards and a career-high 11 touchdowns in 15 games last season.
After registering back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2018 and 2019, his 13 missed games the following three seasons kept him from replicating that mark.
Still, he had a strong showing last season, and PFF’s Sam Monson ranked him as the No. 40 player in all of football for his efforts.
“When the 49ers need to lean on Kittle, he shows that he is still a dominant game-breaker,” he wrote. “He generated almost 1,000 yards receiving, including the playoffs, but they tended to come in feast or famine bursts due to the volume of playmakers San Francisco can deploy. Passes thrown his way this season generated a 140.5 passer rating.”
Very often, tight ends are either de facto wide receivers in a team’s offense or more rugged, in-line blockers who don’t see a ton of targets. Kittle remains a complete option at the position, making him even more valuable than his impressive stats would indicate.
It is possible Kittle would not have played in the team’s first preseason game even if he was healthy, so taking a cautious approach and ensuring he is ready for Week 1 of the regular against the Pittsburgh Steelers is clearly the right move for San Francisco.
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