The 49ers won one of the past two games George Kittle missed with an injury, but San Francisco desperately needed its star tight end as it began a streak of three straight games against some of the NFL’s best teams.
Fortunately for the Niners, Kittle was able to play Sunday night and contributed greatly to a surprising 37-8 victory over the visiting Green Bay Packers. The win improves San Francisco to 10-1 as it prepares for games against the 8-2 Ravens (this Sunday) and 9-2 Saints (the following week).
In Kittle’s return, he caught all six of the passes Jimmy Garoppolo threw his way, for 129 yards and a touchdown, a 61-yard play that helped break the Packers’ backs in the second half.
Kittle Sunday night was crucial both to the passing game and running attack – he’s an outstanding run blocker -- which produced 112 yards and two TDs by 49ers backs.
“He means a ton,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan after the win. “It was hard without him. And then having him back tonight, obviously what he does in the pass game but what he does in the run game is equally important.”
Shanahan said Kittle has had an ankle injury since the first game of the season, but then was knocked out the past two games with a knee problem. Kittle will continue to play through the ankle injury, which he described as something like a “bone chip.”
Kittle hated being sidelined and hopes not to miss any more games.
“It’s mentality,” Kittle told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “It’s football. Like I said, you either play or you don’t play. I wish I could’ve played last week and the week before. They wouldn’t let me. But it’s just a mindset.”
For the season, Kittle has 52 catches for 670 yards, a 12.-9-yard average and three TDs in nine games.
Sunday’s game in Baltimore is set for kickoff at 10 a.m.