Having George Kittle in the lineup would be a significant boost for the 9-1 San Francisco 49ers, who host the 8-2 Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. The Pro Bowl tight end hasn't practiced or played since suffering knee and ankle injuries against the Arizona Cardinals during Week 9.

That changed on Thursday.

Kittle was out on the field with his teammates during the portion of practice open to the media. He was wearing a blue non-contact jersey, however. Still, it is a good sign for the tight end, who is eager to get back on the football field.


Despite missing the past two games, Kittle remains the 49ers' top receiver, having hauled in 46 passes for 541 yards with two touchdowns, and is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite and most reliable target.

Kittle's status may not be clear until closer to kickoff between the 49ers and Packers. Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday was asked about his tight end's health.

"Better than last week, but not good enough to practice today (Wednesday)," Shanahan responded. "It's going to come down to the wire again, and hopefully it will work out."

Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday either, but like Kittle, was on the field on Thursday wearing a non-contact jersey.


The 49ers' late kickoff could be a benefit for ailing players like Kittle, Samuel, and Emmanuel Sanders (ribs).

"When you have a lot of guys that are banged up, the later [kickoff] can be the better," Shanahan said. "I think it's a little harder to get going early in the morning. If it was an East Coast Monday-night game, it would probably be the best, except I wouldn't want to travel and be on the road.

"But the longer our guys can have, the better. Our guys need it right now."

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