Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports


49ers’ Kyle Shanahan evaluates George Kittle’s return, defenses taking away the Deebo Samuel factor

Sep 26, 2022 at 3:00 PM--


George Kittle caught just four passes for 28 yards during his 2022 season debut on Sunday night against the Denver Broncos. The San Francisco 49ers tight end is returning from a groin injury that forced him to miss Weeks 1 and 2. He wasn't much of a factor in the 11-10 loss to Denver, though.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with reporters via a Monday conference call and asked if Kittle is still working his way back into game shape.

"Yeah, definitely," Shanahan responded. "You can't underestimate how much, when guys miss time, how hard it is to go out and play a game like that. So yeah, George, he did some good things, but he's not there yet because he hasn't been playing much. It was nice to get him back in practice more last week. It was nice to get him through the game healthy. And if we can keep that trend, I know he'll keep getting back to himself."

Another reduced factor in Sunday's game was Deebo Samuel. Yes, he caught five passes for 73 yards, but the receiver made a name for himself last year playing the "wide back" role, carrying the football. The Broncos defense held Samuel to six rushing yards on five carries.

"We're not surprising anybody, that's for sure," Shanahan explained. "Everyone knows how committed all 11 guys got to be when Deebo's back there because they know what he can do. That always makes it harder when you can't surprise the league because everybody knows how good he is.

"But I do think there's a few opportunities. He still got his numbers to a degree. He didn't get them last night, but I still believe, on a number of those plays, if we can execute the blocks just a little bit better, I think Deebo's got a good chance to get a big one.

"That's why you get those opportunities because he's the best guy on our team that has the chance to get the big one. We've just got to get him back there when we've got a better look for him."



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