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Kittle returns to practice; looks ‘awesome,’ according to Shanahan

And looked like a player that’s playing Sunday

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Kyle’s update, 1:46 PM PT: Shanahan confirmed Kittle is questionable for Sunday’s game after he was limited in practice. Daniel Brunskill was ruled out with a groin injury. It’ll be interesting to see how much the weather plays a factor in whether Kittle plays or not. Shanahan said Kittle “looked awesome,” if you’re curious whether he’ll suit up.

Shanahan also said he felt like the team was “half a block away” from getting explosive runs last week. He didn’t blame the weather, but added, “hopefully, we won’t have as many close ones against Seattle.”

Earlier on Friday morning, 49ers general manager John Lynch joined KNRB and said that George Kittle is improving: “With a player like George, you wait right up until game time. We’ll hold out hope that George is ready.”

Lynch said it was critical for Kittle to practice Friday. Well, sure enough, No. 85 was on the field for the afternoon’s practice:

This marks the first time Kittle has practiced since Monday, September 5, when he injured his groin.

For me, it’s pretty simple. If Kittle’s practicing, then he’s playing. Add in a rivalry game and the potential of falling 0-2 — which is all but a death knell to a team’s playoff hopes — the decision to play gets a bit easier, even if there is a risk of an injury.

We take for granted how dominant the 49ers are when Kittle is on the field. When he doesn’t play, the Niners are three games under .500 in 15 games. Kittle makes everyone else’s job on offense easier and gives Trey Lance another weapon at his disposal.

Shanahan is set to speak with the media after practice, which is about 1:30 PM PT. We’ll know more about Kittle’s status then.