Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
It’s 2018 all over again. George Kittle and Nick Mullens are back together. Unless Jimmy Garoppolo suddenly displays improved health in his left ankle, it appears Sunday Night Football will be a flash to the very recent past for San Francisco.
George Kittle’s return
In typical Kittle fashion, George Kittle announced that George Kittle would be back on Sunday. All signs were pointing in that direction, given that Kittle practiced all three days last week, albeit in limited fashion, and Jordan Reed will be placed on injured reserve with an MCL sprain (just like Kittle, who also has a bone bruise).
The gregarious tight end said, as you’d expect, said that he “could have played against the Jets,” (he meant Giants) but he had a few things working against that happening (i.e. the Giants are terrible, the MetLife turf is perceived by the 49ers as terrible and it’s Week 3).
“A couple things went into me not playing,” Kittle said. “Just a conversation with Coach Shanahan and we agreed, it wasn’t the best decision. I wasn’t all the way back and it’s a long season. I think if it would have been later in the season, I would have definitely gone, but hey, now I’m here and I get to play on Sunday Night Football against the Eagles.”
Returning to play with Nick Mullens for the first time since 2018 is a welcome sight for the All-Pro, nodding to Mullens’ internet nickname.
“He never messes up, he’s just there, he’s consistent,” Kittle said. “He just works hard and I think that’s that’s just what our team responds well to; is just guys who go out there and do their job and do it at a high level and that’s what Nick does every single day… He’s BDN and he’s a great QB.”
The other injuries
There was one surprise on the 49ers’ injury report in that Ahkello Witherspoon, who practiced in full on Wednesday, became limited on Thursday. That would indicate a regression in his health. The following is the 49ers’ practice report:
Did not practice:
DE Dee Ford (back)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle injury)
LB Dre Greenlaw (quadricep)
CB Emmanuel Moseley (concussion)
RB Raheem Mostert (MCL sprain)
TE Jordan Reed (MCL sprain)
CB K’Waun Williams (hip)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring “tweak”)
TE George Kittle (knee)
RB Jerick McKinnon (ribs)
San Francisco’s not alone in its injury woes. The Eagles wide receiving corps has been decimated and Alshon Jeffery, who was limited on Wednesday with a foot injury, was out on Thursday. Two linemen remained out with undisclosed illnesses, with John Hightower joining the non-participants who were sick, and tackle Jack Driscoll returning.
Did not practice:
WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (calf)
G Jamon Brown (illness)
WR John Hightower (illness)
WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring)
WR Alshon Jeffery (foot)
CB Avonte Maddox (ankle)
T Jason Peters (illness)
CB Trevor Williams (rib)
S Rudy Ford (groin)
T Lane Johnson (ankle)
RB Miles Sanders (glute)
DT Fletcher Cox (abdomen)
T Jack Driscoll (illness)
C Jason Kelce (not injury related)