The San Francisco 49ers will be without star tight end George Kittle against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon. Kittle has been dealing with a knee injury and NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero reported that the 49ers will hold him out.
Kittle joins a growing list of 49ers that have hit the injured list. The 49ers are already without Deebo Samuel who is nursing a foot injury. Fellow receiver Brandon Aiyuk missed last week and is tracking towards his NFL debut.
The organization also signed NFL veteran Mohamed Sanu this week. He has played in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense with the Atlanta Falcons.
Kittle has an important role in the 49ers offense. He got off to a strong start with four catches and 44 yards last week. The 49ers will look to rely on their terrific rushing attack and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to engineer the offense.
ESPN analyst Marcus Spears believes that the 49ers’ injuries are concerning given the NFC West division.
“Now we have Kittle injured who we know is the heart and soul of what they want to do offensively,” Spears said on NFL Live Friday. “You look at the run game and you hold out hope that this offensive line and newly acquired Trent Williams, (Raheem) Mostert and the backfield that they can manage to be fairly strong until they can get some of their playmakers back. This is not a good situation for what you expect their division to be this year.”
The 49ers will likely turn to NFL veteran Jordan Reed to fill the void for Kittle. If Aiyuk is available, he could also see an increased workload in his NFL debut.
Kittle recently signed a five-year $75 million contract extension this offseason. He earned his first All-Pro honors and continues to impress the 49ers coaching staff. Shanahan felt that Kittle earned his contract and loves having him on the roster.
“He’s earned it,” Shanahan told KNBR via NBC Sports Bay Area last month. “He does everything the right way. It starts with how talented and good you play on Sunday, which he does better than any tight end in the league. But after that. The way the guy takes care of himself. The way he works year-round to put his body in a position to stay healthy with the way he plays.
“It makes you believe in the guy. It makes you believe in not what he has done but what he’s going to do. When you have a guy like that, it makes it a lot easier for the owner to commit to him like that. We were just pumped to get it done because it’s something we all were dying to get something like that done with a player like George, and thankfully we did.”
The 49ers hope that Kittle can return in time for Week 3. They will look to get a win against the Jets without their star.