George Kittle confident he will return on Sunday for the San Francisco 49ers


SANTA CLARA, Calif .– In case there is any lingering doubt as to whether San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle would come back from his knee injury on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, he has done his best to wipe it off Thursday afternoon.Speaking to the Bay Area media after completing his second full practice in as many days, Kittle made it clear he would come back from his sprained left knee on Sunday night after a two-week hiatus.

“Anytime you miss games it’s not fun,” Kittle said. “You can ask anyone who has missed games in the past two weeks, but knowing that I’m going to be healthy I can go play and not worry about anything and let it go, that ‘ is all I can’t wait to see. . And once you’ve got over that bump and know you’re going to be back and you’ll be fine, that makes things a whole lot easier. So certainly my teammates made it a lot easier, they came to get me and they have two wins. I can’t wait to contribute and help the team this week. ”

Kittle’s imminent return is a welcome development for a team that has been ravaged by injury in recent weeks. Kittle’s sprained knee was one of the first in a string of injuries that left the Niners with no 10 starters planned in last week’s win over the New York Giants.

Kittle was injured in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals when he came up for a pass and was hit low by safety Budda Baker. Kittle completed the game but was no longer targeted.

Prior to the Week 2 game against the New York Jets, Kittle remained in the Bay Area for further rehabilitation work. He flew to West Virginia to meet the team after beating the Jets, then trained on a limited basis last week against the Giants.

But the Niners ultimately chose to keep him out of the two games, in part because of fears that he would return to the new artificial playing surface at MetLife Stadium.

“I feel like I can still play,” Kittle said. “I feel like I could have played against the Jets, but that’s just me. I think a few things kept me from playing and just the conversation with the coach. [Kyle] Shanahan and we just agreed it wasn’t the best decision and I wasn’t all the way home yet and it’s a long season. I think if it had been later in the season I would definitely have left. But now I’m here and I can play Sunday night football against the Eagles and that’s what I’m looking forward to. ”

Kittle may not be the only key member of the 49ers’ offense to return on Sunday night. Receiver Deebo Samuel underwent another workout Thursday as he continues to work out after Jones broke his left foot. The 49ers opened Samuel’s training window on Wednesday and have 21 days to activate him on the 53-player roster.

Shanahan said on Wednesday that he wanted Samuel to have a week of training without a problem before deciding to activate it for Sunday night. If Kittle and Samuel are able to return this week, it would be the first time the Niners have had most of their main healthy pass catchers since June.

“We didn’t have everyone together at the same time,” said running back Jerick McKinnon. “There are guys here and there who have been injured… the good thing about that is that in a few weeks we’re going to get everyone back and it’s definitely going to be exciting. The teams are going to have their hands full for sure. ”

While Kittle and Samuel pulled off another practice Thursday, the 49ers were still without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo hasn’t trained for the second day in a row this week as he continues to recover from a sprained right ankle.

Shanahan said on Wednesday he wanted to see how Garoppolo had resisted training at some point this week before he felt comfortable finding him back in the roster. If Garoppolo doesn’t train for some title on Friday, substitute Nick Mullens will start against the Eagles.


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