George Kittle is back.
The San Francisco 49ers will activate their star tight end from the injured reserve list and plan to play him when they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, coach Kyle Shanahan said on Thursday, via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.
“He looked great this week,” Shanahan said, via ESPN. “Just talked to him, he said he felt good here after practice so I’m expecting him to go.”
Kittle is ‘probably one of the healthiest guys we have’
Kittle had been sidelined multiple times this season, first with a knee injury and then with a broken bone in his foot — which landed him on injured reserve last month and forced him to miss the 49ers’ last six games.
The former Iowa standout was held out of their loss to the Cowboys last week despite being medically cleared to play. He will be limited on Saturday, too.
The decision to play Kittle was actually an easy one for them to make — even though the 49ers have just two games left and have been eliminated from the postseason.
#49ers George Kittle on how the conversation went with Kyle Shanahan and whether they addressed risks in returning:
Shanahan: "Do you want to play?"
Kittle: "Hell yes."
Shanahan: "Sounds good"
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) December 24, 2020
The 27-year-old is just one of several high-profile injuries the 49ers have had to deal with this season. Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens are both currently injured, leaving backup CJ Beathard as their starter this week. Defensive ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, cornerback Richard Sherman and running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman have all gone down, too.
Kittle has recorded 474 yards and two touchdowns on 37 receptions so far this season, though has only played in six games and hasn’t seen the field since Week 8. The two-time Pro Bowler racked up more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.
"He's probably one of the healthiest guys we have right now," Shanahan said, via ESPN. "He had two good weeks of practice, feels great after it. We wouldn't put him out there at all if there was any risk of re-injuring this or he wasn't healed. But we've got a lot of guys going out there and everyone has got stuff on the line every time they step out. Whether you have two games left and you're not in the playoffs or whether it's the first game of the year, that's what these guys do. If they're healthy enough to do it, that's what you do on our team."
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