George Kittle remains one of the most widely respected tight ends in the NFL. But the 49ers star hasn't played a full season in five years, and there is "concern" from general manager John Lynch regarding his health ahead of Week 1. Kittle sat out practice this week while nursing a "lingering" groin injury, coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, though there's hope he'll be ready for the season opener.
"We're just taking care of him right now," Shanahan said. "It's still stuff lingering a little bit from when he has missed some time. ... (Hopefully) we can get him going on Monday."
Monday, of course, marks the start of game week, with the 49ers tabbed to open their 2023 campaign Sept. 10 against the Steelers. That's probably why Lynch expressed some hesitation when predicting Kittle's availability on San Francisco's KNBR 680.
"I think there's always concern when something persists, and this has kind of lingered," Lynch said, per 49ers Webzone. "George usually has about one of these things a year, and then once he gets through it, he's good. And so, knock on wood that's the case."
Kittle missed the first two games of the 2022 season with a groin injury, to which Shanahan alluded. He also missed three games the previous year due to a calf injury, plus half the 2020 campaign with knee and foot issues. When healthy, the three-time All-Pro has been one of the top pass catchers at his position, clearing 700 receiving yards four different times. Even with the 49ers starting three different QBs last year, he logged a career-high 11 touchdown catches.