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Stats & Eggs Podcast: Is Kyle Shanahan about to make a big mistake with George Kittle?

Coach says a healthy Kittle will play against the Cardinals

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

I am on the record as saying that there is no one I’d rather see coaching the San Francisco 49ers than Kyle Shanahan, and I stand by that one hundred percent. At Tuesday’s press conference, however, he said something that is so mind-numbingly wrong it feels like he only spoke the words to put the loyalty of the Shanafans to the test.

After saying that George Kittle would play this week if he was totally healthy, Kyle was asked why it was important to get him on the field given that the team has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Here was his response:

“If he’s healthy, I just don’t see the reason why not to. That’s the same as every other player on our roster. If you’re healthy and you’re not risking something, I mean we would never ask him to play injured or anything like that, but he had a good week of practice last week. Most of the soreness was going away and we’re definitely going to test it again this week.

But, when you have a guy, if he’s a hundred percent healthy and stuff, how do you sit one guy and then look at everybody else in the eye on the team...Obviously I don’t want to get George hurt or anything like that, and that’s why we’re going to be overly cautious with it and that’s why we have been, but if someone’s a hundred percent healthy, I can’t look the rest of the team in the eye and tell them they have to play, but George doesn’t. So, that’s just part of having a team and part of treating people the right way.”

I went on a rant about this in today’s Stats & Eggs Podcast (which you can hear below), but I am really hoping that Kyle is just pulling a Harbaugh and keeping all team information close to the vest on this one. If he’s not, he is taking a massive risk.

In a season where so many people have gotten hurt that the team is struggling just to field a full roster of players, why would you put your best skill position player at risk when the playoffs aren’t a possibility?

And I don’t agree with the idea that Kyle couldn’t look the other players in the eye if he kept Kittle on the bench - that happens in NFL locker rooms across the league every single day. Superstars always get treated differently, because they’re superstars. Surely someone who grew up in the NFL has seen that take place.

To me, playing Kittle at all the rest of this season is asking for something bad to happen, and you just know that 2020 would love to send us off into next year with a major injury that keeps Kittle out for most or all of 2021.

Please don’t do this, Kyle.