The star tight end for the San Francisco 49ers made his return on Saturday following a multi-week absence.
Entering Week 16, the San Francisco 49ers had nothing to play for. They sat at 5-9 on the season and were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Even though there was no meaningful football left to be played this campaign, that wasn’t going to stop star tight end George Kittle from returning to the field. And he got to do so against the rival Arizona Cardinals.
Over eight weeks removed from suffering a foot fracture, Kittle showed no signs of limitations in the team’s 20-12 win over the Cardinals.
Kittle returns to form vs. Cardinals
The 49ers didn’t have to rely on the passing game much on Saturday due to the dominant performance of running back Jeff Wilson Jr. But once quarterback CJ Beathard dropped back in the pocket, Kittle was the biggest beneficiary.
San Francisco’s star tight end recorded four receptions on five targets for 92 yards, all of which were team-highs.
Kittle has been haunted by the injury bug this season. In San Francisco’s home opener against the Cardinals in Week 1, Kittle suffered a left knee sprain after getting tackled by safety Budda Baker. As a result, Kittle missed San Francisco’s next two games. Then in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks, the tight end limped off the field and to the locker room. Following that game, the 49ers placed him on the injured reserve.
Entering this game, Kittle recorded 37 receptions for 474 yards and two touchdowns in six contests.
The 49ers accomplished what they wanted to do on Saturday afternoon, and that’s to serve as a roadblock to the Cardinals’ path to the playoffs. With this loss, the Cardinals no longer control their destiny. If the Chicago Bears win their final two games this season, they will clinch the seventh seed in the NFC.
Kittle did mention to the media on Thursday that he wanted to have fun while making “someone else’s life more difficult,” via David Lombardi of The Athletic. It’s safe to say that Kittle accomplished that, as Arizona’s life became even more difficult with one week remaining in the season.