Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan says 49ers looking to protect George Kittle, Fred Warner -- from themselves

Aug 28, 2020 at 2:50 PM--

Tight end George Kittle didn't take part in Friday's practice inside Levi's Stadium. Linebacker Fred Warner was forced to limit himself to a lighter-than-usual session. That's because the San Francisco 49ers are looking to protect both players — from themselves.

Kittle is dealing with a tight hamstring. Before you freak out, it's worth noting that the injury doesn't seem serious. If there were a game this weekend, it probably wouldn't keep Kittle from playing.

That might be the problem, though.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows players like Kittle and Warner will push themselves — sometimes further than they should — even when it comes to practices.

"He's good with all the testing, so there's nothing pulled or strained, just tightness," Shanahan said of Kittle on Friday. "The way George moves, and the way he goes, he only knows one way. So when he's tight, we're going to protect him from himself, and wait until he's not tight."

Warner must be the defensive version of Kittle because Shanahan's words about the linebacker seemed to echo what he said about his tight end.

"Fred is as consistent of a player as we've had," Shanahan commented. "He only goes one speed, similar to Kittle. He didn't have the tightness that Kittle had, but we're trying to protect Fred from himself. We think Fred's ready to play.

"We still want to keep him going and keep him ready to play, so we're not putting him on ice until Week 1, but I think it helped other guys get more reps today than it would have helped Fred being out there."

The 49ers regular-season opener against the Arizona Cardinals is just over two weeks away. Players will have Saturday off before returning to the practice field on Sunday. It will be the last practice that the media is allowed to observe in full as the team switches to regular-season mode after that.

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