They will face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday at 10:00 A.M. Pacific time, and it will be their first opportunity to prove to the naysayers that they were right to hand the keys of their offense over to Lance despite his relative inexperience.
— 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙎𝙁𝙉𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 (@TheSFNiners) September 9, 2022
Kittle has had a bad groin all week, and head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that he is considered day-to-day.
But Kittle is a tough, resilient customer, and he told the media that he’s “feeling significantly better” and that he will “will do everything (he) can” to be able to play on Sunday.
George Kittle just now in the 49ers locker room: He’s “feeling significantly better” with his groin injury than he did earlier in the week and “will do everything (he) can” to play vs the Bears Sunday
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 9, 2022
Kittle’s mettle is admirable, but if his injury doesn’t improve enough by Sunday morning, it may be better for San Francisco to sit him out and play it safe.
Kittle Is Considered “Injury Prone,” But Reality Says Something Different
The narrative around Kittle is that he is prone to injury and that he is often unavailable to play.
It is true he has tended to get nicked up every now and then, especially over the last three seasons.
But there is a difference between being injury-prone and being prone to miss games.
David Lombardi, an NFL insider, set the record straight by pointing out how few games Kittle has actually missed.
On top of this, 8 of Kittle's 14 missed games came in 2020, when the lack of an offseason program triggered an injury rise everywhere.
In all seasons but 2020, Kittle has played in 65 of 71 (92%) of games
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 8, 2022
Playing in 73 of a possible 87 career games, as Lombardi pointed out Kittle has done, is a solid availability rate, and it speaks to Kittle’s dedication and his ability and willingness to play through pain in order to help his team.
At the same time, his tendency to get injured a little more often than some is reason enough to be conservative with his current groin ailment, but there is another reason to do so.
The 49ers Have A Relatively Easy Schedule To Start The Season
In the NFL, anyone can beat anyone on any given Sunday, but the Bears will have their hands full against the Niners, Kittle or no Kittle.
The following week, San Francisco will have its season opener versus the Seattle Seahawks, a team that will be starting Geno Smith at quarterback, which isn’t exactly a scary or difficult prospect.
The team should be able to win both contests without Kittle, especially if Lance plays at even an adequate level.
The 49ers will really need Kittle in Week 3 when they visit the Denver Broncos and the week after when they take on the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
If they need to, now would be a great time to let him rest and recover, if nothing else than to prevent his groin from getting worse or another injury that could be caused by overcompensating.