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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ George Kittle optimistic he’ll return ‘sooner than later’

Dec 1, 2020 at 3:01 PM--

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is hopeful of getting his All-Pro tight end, George Kittle, back on the field before the end of the season. Kittle is optimistic that his return will come sooner rather than later.

Kittle is recovering from a break in his cuboid bone in his foot. The injury occurred on November 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, and the tight end landed on injured reserve four days later.

"All I ever really learned was that it's the hardest bone in your foot to break," Kittle said via NBC Sports Bay Area as he spoke with Matt Maiocco for the NFL's annual My Cause My Cleats program, "and you basically have to do it intentionally or in a car accident. So I don't know if that means I'm unlucky or if I need to slow down every once in a while.

"The good news is it's apparently the easiest bone to heal in your foot, and it's definitely doing a good job of that."

Kittle was less optimistic about his return a week ago, but his progress since then has made him more hopeful.

"They said eight weeks; I said six," said Kittle. "And I'm excited. These last couple days have definitely progressed forward and made me very optimistic about returning to the field of play. When I first got hurt, my mindset was that I'll be back. And I'm going to continue to keep that mindset because I definitely feel like I'm going to be on the field here sooner than later."

The My Cause My Cleats program kicks off during Week 13. Kittle knows he won't be able to participate on the field by then, but he still teamed up with USAA to support TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

"I don't think I'll be able to wear them just due to the injury and the day everybody wears them on. I don't think I'll be back before that," Kittle said. "But the fact that I got to design them and use My Cause My Cleats platform to show off TAPS and USAA and my support for military families, it was special for me."

On Tuesday, Shanahan told reporters that Kittle's and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's returns are dependent on the next couple of weeks and how their recoveries progress. They are also dependent on the 49ers' situation and whether or not the team is still fighting for a playoff spot.

"I think they're in a similar boat with that," Shanahan said. "[Their return is] not guaranteed. It's how they react over here the next couple of weeks. But they're just starting to get into where they can get on the field and not with us, but on their own and do some stuff. That's hopefully going to be the last couple of weeks, whether it's two games or one game or none. That's why I was very happy with how we played last week, and hopefully, we can continue to do that."

You can listen to the entire conversation between Kittle and Maiocco below.

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