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Oh, Hey There! How George Kittle can help overcome the loss of Deebo Samuel

With Deebo Samuel out, it’s time for the 49ers to rely on their star tight end

When Kyle Shanahan was asked how he planned to adjust the offense in the absence of Deebo Samuel, he casually mentioned George Kittle’s name during his response. On today’s Oh, Hey There! podcast, Javier Vega and Leo Luna think 85 bears more responsibility than that.

“You’re going to need to get your conversions with George Kittle,” Vega said, “You’re going to need him to get his yards after the catch. Kyle and Jimmy [Garoppolo] need to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands.”

‘Kittle is your offensive captain. Your spark. Your energy,” Luna added, “He’s the guy you paid more than anyone in the NFL at that position. It’s got to be him.”

The 49ers know better than anyone that injuries are a part of life in the NFL. When those injuries come and times get tough, teams have to lean on their best players to see them through to the other side. At roughly $15 million per year, it’s not enough for Kittle to block people out of the club. That’s great, of course, but one catch for 13 yards isn’t going to cut it this week.

Now, as Javier said, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan are also responsible for getting the ball in his hands more often than they have. Obviously, Kittle can’t throw the ball to himself, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him be a little more forceful when it comes to demanding the football. Late in the Eagles game on Sunday, Devonta Smith told his coaches he wanted the ball in his hands before the final play. That’s the same kind of attitude Kittle needs to adopt while the team is without its offensive MVP.

We all know George is capable of a lot more than what he’s done from a receiving standpoint this season. Frankly, Kittle is capable of carrying an entire passing attack on his shoulders if necessary. We saw it in 2018 when he had almost three times as many receiving yards as anyone else on the team. It’s time to see someone more closely resembling that guy again - at least for a little while.

Make sure you check out the entire Oh, Hey There! podcast, which is available everywhere you get your pods.

Other topics in today’s episode

  • Elijah Mitchell is doing something that even the great Frank Gore couldn’t do
  • Is Talanoa Hufanga becoming a problem in pass coverage?
  • How Azeez Al-Shaair is proving he can pick up the slack while Fred Warner is hurt