Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Update: George Kittle is suffering from a sprained left knee, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday. His availability for Week Two remains a question.
End of update.
What’s really going on with George Kittle?
That’s the question San Francisco 49ers fans — and, of course, fantasy football owners — are asking about the tight end after he went to the locker room with an apparent knee injury just prior to halftime of his team’s season opening loss against the Arizona Cardinals. He returned to action, but was not targeted once in the second half, despite playing every snap.
Adding to the intrigue: Kittle was in obvious pain on the 49ers sideline immediately following the injury, but walked into the locker room without a noticeable limp, then said after the game his leg felt “fantastic,” and was “not an issue at all.”
Said head coach Kyle Shanahan, “I know he went out with a lower leg injury… They don’t get into specifics with me. At halftime, he told me he was good to go, so he returned. I’m sure we’ll find out a little bit more tomorrow morning when he comes in.”
When asked about his lack of targets in the second half, Kittle chalked it up to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo taking what the Arizona defense gave the 49ers.
“Other guys were open,” Kittle said. “That’s just the way the game goes sometimes. We’ll watch the film, see what happened, how I can be better, how I can be more open, and we’ll go from there. It’s all right. I’m not worried about it at all.”
The concurring, non-alarmist view is that the 49ers were operating without their top-two wide receivers, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, and the Cardinals rolled double coverage Kittle’s way consistently throughout the afternoon. He nabbed some passes in the first half, but may have just been swallowed up by the Cardinals secondary in the second half.
To that end, Kittle was targeted five times on Sunday. For what it’s worth, Kittle was targeted five or fewer times in three games last season, so while the low target count is not normal, it isn’t completely unprecedented.
Still, Kittle isn’t one to complain about injuries — he played through a torn labrum for two seasons, after all — so it’s worth waiting on Shanahan’s update to members of the media at 3:30 p.m. on Monday before breathing a sigh of relief.