With a 1-1 record and starting quarterback Trey Lance presumably done for the season with a severe ankle injury, the outlook for the San Francisco 49ers isn’t too bad, but there is a bit of reason for concern.
Other than Lance, the team has had some other injuries, including the knee injury that will keep starting running back Elijah Mitchell out for the next several weeks, as well as offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill‘s hamstring ailment.
Tight end George Kittle, one of the 49ers’ most important skill players, missed the first two games of this season with a groin injury, and his status has been in doubt.
However, he has been improving, and he was even able to be a limited participant in practice on Wednesday.
George Kittle Back at practice https://t.co/HZRe2nwGEz
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) September 21, 2022
Kittle’s status for Week 3’s contest against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos is currently listed as questionable.
#49ers TE George Kittle limited here in practice today, and catching passes from his “not-so-former” QB Jimmy Garoppolo (something we could see Sunday if Kittle is available.)
HC Kyle Shanahan said Kittle was out Week 2 for more precautionary reasons. pic.twitter.com/eIr5IS9XY0
— Kayla Burton (@Kay_Breezy22) September 21, 2022
With the team needing to build on the momentum it created last Sunday versus the Seattle Seahawks, getting Kittle back this week would be a big boon for it.
George Kittle Has Been A Security Blanket For San Francisco
Ever since 2018, his second season in the NFL, Kittle has been a steady producer for the 49ers.
That year, he amassed 1,377 yards and five touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl selection, and he has been a mainstay of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme ever since.
Last season, Kittle put up 910 yards and six touchdowns while earning his third Pro Bowl nod, and his 75.5 percent catch rate made him a reliable target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Now that Garoppolo is under center again, Kittle returning soon would greatly boost the Niners’ offense, particularly given the chemistry he has with Garoppolo.
So far this season, their passing offense has been very weak, as they rank 19th in points scored and 29th in passing yards and touchdowns through two games.
Some of that has to do with Shanahan having his team run the ball a lot, presumably to limit Lance’s mistakes because of his inexperience, but it also has something to do with Kittle’s absence.
Meanwhile, the Broncos’ pass defense has been solid – they rank fifth in passing yards and touchdowns allowed so far this season.
Having Kittle back would give the 49ers’ limping and compromised offensive line another blocker to blunt Denver’s pass rush.
Health Is A Constant Concern For The 49ers
Over the last two seasons, San Francisco has had to deal with multiple key injuries.
In 2020, it was ravaged by multiple ailments, including an ankle injury that limited Garoppolo to just six games and the team to just six victories.
Last year, Garoppolo and Kittle each missed two contests, while Mitchell was out for six games and running back Raheem Mostert played in just one contest.
If the 49ers stay healthy, many agree they have a legitimate chance of competing for and possibly winning a Super Bowl championship.
However, the same has been true for the last few years, only to see injuries complicate those efforts.