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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle: 49ers have a ‘next man in’ mentality, remain confident despite mounting injuries

Sep 24, 2020 at 1:31 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers surprised reporters by bringing in tight end George Kittle to speak via Zoom on Thursday. Fans shouldn't take Kittle's availability to the media as a clue that he will play on Sunday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, though.

In case anyone from the New York Giants is reading this — maybe he will, maybe he won't.

"I just missed you guys," Kittle said. "They said I could talk to you guys. I haven't talked to you guys in a week. I just really missed all your faces and voices."

Kittle is recovering from a sprained MCL and bone bruise, according to multiple reports. He missed this past Sunday's game against the New York Jets but hopes to get back on the field this weekend. The tight end has been limited during the team's two practices this week at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.

San Francisco's 31-13 win over the Jets was bittersweet. The team got its first win of the season but lost several players in the process.

Defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas suffered season-ending ACL injuries. Running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman probably won't be on the field against the Giants. The latter could miss multiple weeks and may be a candidate for short-term injured reserve, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Said Kittle: "It's tough when you lose two guys at similar positions on the D-line, especially with Bosa, who, in my opinion, is one of the best football players in the NFL. But we've just got to play for them."

The 49ers remain a confident bunch. Some early-season injuries aren't going to change their mentality moving forward.

"The morale of the team is we're still a great football team," said Kittle. "Obviously, we have to go prove that each and every Sunday, but we're still confident in our abilities. We have a lot of dogs on defense and on offense and epochal teams, a lot of guys that can make plays. We have depth all over the field, whether it's wide receiver, tight ends, D-line, O-line; we've got guys everywhere. Our corners are getting back and healthy.

"I'm just excited to see guys go out there and take advantage of the opportunity because we do have guys down, but it's football. Next man in. I know that's cliché and cheesy, but it is what it is. We have a lot of guys who are looking forward to getting this opportunity so they can prove themselves and put some good ball on tape."

Should Kittle play on Sunday, it probably won't be Jimmy Garoppolo tossing him the football. The 49ers' starting quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Jets. While he hasn't officially been ruled out, all signs point towards Nick Mullens making his ninth career start.

Kittle doesn't believe too much of the game plan will have to be altered due to a potential quarterback change.

"They're both similar quarterbacks," Kittle explained. "They both sling it. They're both confident in their abilities. I don't know how the game plan would be any different, but I don't know if Jimmy's going to play or not play.

"Nick's confident in the whole game plan. He's got it locked in, and he's going to have a great game."

Added Kittle: "We're definitely in good hands if Jimmy can't go."

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