Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ George Kittle loves and hates new playoff format, finds silver lining in potentially playing in empty stadiums

Apr 11, 2020 at 12:43 PM--

If you ask people what they think about the NFL's new playoff format, which is set to begin during the upcoming season, the responses will vary depending on the perspective.

For fans, it is great. It means more fanbases will have a reason to be excited toward the end of the season because there will now be No. 7 seeds in each conference. It also means more football to watch during Wild-card Weekend.

Some players aren't as enthusiastic about it because, for the No. 2 seed, it means an extra game versus the old format. Now, only the No. 1 seeded team in each conference will earn a bye week when it was the top two teams before. That week off of rest is a significant advantage.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle spoke with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on Friday and was asked where he stands on the debate.

He couldn't really decide.

"I love it, and I hate it at the same time," Kittle responded. "I like games. I love the playoffs. The playoffs are some of the most exciting times in sports. That bye week for the two-seed is huge. I'm all for bye weeks. I like bye weeks."

Of course, this is all assuming there is a 2020 NFL season. Nothing is guaranteed as the nation struggles to get through the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down sports and impacted so many lives. The NFL has been less affected because the league is in its offseason. Other leagues' seasons, like the NBA, MLB, and NHL, have either been canceled or delayed. The XFL shut down operations for good after playing just half a season.

Should the pandemic impact the NFL's regular season, which isn't scheduled to kick off for another five months, there has been speculation that games could be played without fans in the stadiums.

Maybe, that would be a benefit for the 49ers.

"Home games will definitely be weird," Kittle says of that scenario. "If I can go into Seattle or New Orleans without fans there, that will make my job a lot easier. Then I don't have to listen to anything.

"No more silent counts, nothing like that. That will make my life really easy. Hey, I'll play on the road, that's fine. No worries with that."

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