While he’s still officially listed as questionable, head coach Kyle Shanahan left the door open for the 26-year-old to take the field, saying his tight end is ahead of schedule.
“I think if it was a normal person, I'd probably make him doubtful," Shanahan said earlier in the week. "But Kittle's different than most people, and he won't allow me to rule him out too early because he keeps telling me he's going to surprise me by game day.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kittle’s ankle has yet to fully heal, but even a partially healthy return would count as a massive boost for the Niners if he plays.
Despite missing the past two weeks, Kittle is still third in the league at his position in yards per game (67.6) having made 46 receptions for 541yards with two touchdowns on the year.
While Green Bay doesn’t give up a ton of touchdowns to tight ends — just five on the season — it’s had plenty of trouble against teams that heavily feature the position in the passing game. Oakland, Kansas City and Carolina feasted there with a combined 333 yards and four touchdowns on 23 receptions.
That certainly bodes well for Kittle.
On the other hand, there’s a question of rushing him back before he’s fully healthy. Following Sunday night’s tilt with the Packers, the Niners will face the Ravens and Saints — two offenses that have been consistently putting up a concerning amount of points.
If Kittle can play, however, that’s hardly enough reason to hold him out.
The Niners are hoping that’s the case.
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