NBC Sports Matt Maiocco reported the San Francisco 49ers are placing tight end George Kittle on the injured reserve due to his calf injury. That means Kittle must miss three games before returning.
Maiocco tweeted, “the team believes he would be dealing with the condition all season if he continued to try to play. There's a good chance he’ll be back November 7 to face the Cardinals.”
That is spot-on analysis at Kittle’s calf injury would have lingered throughout the season if the team didn’t shut him down. Kittle will have roughly a month to recover. Not having any physical contact should treat him well, as should the rest Kittle will have over the next few weeks.
Offensively, this is a big blow. There’s no way around it. Kittle isn’t only one of the best players on the team, but he’s an integral part of the 49ers running game. The offense asks Kittle to block defensive ends. That says it all. I’d argue that Kittle will be missed more in the running game and even in some pass protection sets than as a true wide receiver.
Don’t get me wrong; Kittle is a great receiver. We all know that. He’s far more than that and what he brings on a down-to-down basis.
Trey Lance won’t have one of his best weapons at his disposal for his first career start. Now more than ever would be an excellent time for Brandon Aiyuk to step it up. Lance has the arm strength for Kyle Shanahan to call a passing game that allows him to throw the ball outside of the numbers.
The 49ers must weather the storm while Kittle is out and use this opportunity to develop one of their young weapons. It’ll be challenging, but there’s plenty of talent on the team to still move the ball and win. Look no further than last season when Kittle missed time. The team still had chances to make plays.