No. 3: Making Up for the Possible Loss of George Kittle
George Kittle took a helmet hit to his knee in Week 9, hyperextending it, yet not preventing him from ultimately finishing the game against the Cardinals with six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Yet injuries like these can get worse after the initial setback, and such appears to be the case heading into Week 10.
Kyle Shanahan ruled Kittle as doubtful for Monday Night Football, which creates a sizable hole in San Francisco’s offense.
For starters, Kittle has yet to drop a pass this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and he’s also emerged as a critical third-down weapon for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. Through nine weeks, Kittle has 14 third-down receptions for a first down, which is tied for third most.
Kittle’s presence alone opens up a lot for Shanahan’s offense. Simply not having him on the field is reason enough for the Seahawks to defend other playmakers, forcing San Francisco to rely on other names to come up with these crucial plays in critical situations.
The 49ers may try to get by with No. 2 tight end Ross Dwelley.
But the drop off from Kittle to Dwelley is significant, and it’s something Shanahan and Co. will have to figure out, should Kittle be unavailable.