49ers tight end George Kittle may not play against the Steelers in their Week 1 clash. According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, Kittle did not practice on Monday while dealing with a groin injury and appears to have serious doubts about his Week 1 availability.
Kittle played 12 snaps in the 49ers’ final preseason, seemingly clearing him of the injury, but he has not practiced since that game. He suffered the injury during training camp and has logged only two practices in the last three weeks. Kittle missed the first two weeks of last season with a groin strain, and it appears now that the standout tight end has questions about if he will play this year.
Kittle noted earlier this offseason that he was fired up to face T.J. Watt. If the injury persists, the Steelers could have an even more significant advantage up front.
“If it comes to blocking, I’ll toot my own horn. That’s just stuff I practice my entire offseason. I take all the reps in-season. Like I’m very prideful when it comes to that stuff,” Kittle said. “When it’s like second down and they’re like, ‘Hey, it’s pass-15 weak, you’re one-on-one versus a Cam Jordan. You’re one-on-one versus T.J. Watt, go for it.’ I’m not like, ‘Yeah, like hey, he gets paid millions of dollars to rush the passer.’ But I look at it as an opportunity for me to be like, ‘You’re not going to be able to get past me,’ and I’m very excited about that.”
Kittle’s receiving and blocking ability bring together a beautiful harmony that makes him one of the best tight ends in the NFL, but injuries have forced him to be less than available for an entire season in the past. Still, he racked up over 700 yards in 15 games last year and, if he plays, is a force to be reckoned with for the Steelers.