SF 49ers need Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle for a playoff run

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers have little room for error in terms of getting into the playoffs, and Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle must return for it to happen.

At 5-6 with another string of tough games ahead of them, the SF 49ers don’t have a lot of wiggle room in terms of making the playoffs this season.

Most importantly, the Niners need quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle back as soon as possible.

Both are on injured reserve with ankle and foot injuries, respectively. And there’s still a good chance neither player is healthy enough to return this season, although head coach Kyle Shanahan is hopeful both players can return between now and Week 17.

“I’m holding out hope for Jimmy for the last couple of weeks, same with Kittle,” Shanahan told reporters on Monday. “I think they’re in a similar boat with that and that’s 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.”

Good. San Francisco needs both if it hopes to make the playoffs.

Currently, the SF 49ers hold the No. 10 seed in the playoff picture but are just a game behind the seventh-seeded Arizona Cardinals, who currently own the tiebreaker over the Niners from their Week 1 win at Levi’s Stadium.

Both teams play again in Arizona in Week 16 — a game where both Kittle and Garoppolo could possibly return. And after that in Week 17, San Francisco hosts the 8-3 division-leading Seattle Seahawks in what could be a make-or-break match in determining whether or not the SF 49ers creep into the postseason.

Again, Kittle and Garoppolo will be crucial.

SF 49ers can stay afloat without Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle, but that’s it

It’s up for debate whether or not the Niners want to retain Garoppolo into 2021. But there’s little questioning he’s the best option the team has on its current roster.

No. 2 quarterback Nick Mullens has shown this season he’s no more than a backup. His 3.4 interception percentage is tied for fourth worst among qualifiers, while his 87.1 passer rating ranks 25th overall.

San Francisco’s Week 12 win over the LA Rams showed the team can get by upper-echelon opponents, provided it has some playmakers available. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel and running back Raheem Mostert were key to that game.

But given the fact Samuel and fellow wideout Brandon Aiyuk have only been available together four games out of a possible 11 this season, it’s pretty evident another bona fide pass-catcher is needed.

Someone like Kittle to create that serious threat.

The SF 49ers face the 8-3 Buffalo Bills in Week 13, and Buffalo has allowed 709 receiving yards to tight ends this season — second highest in the league. Needless to say, Kittle will be missed. Weeks 14 and 15 are winnable games against the 4-7 Washington Football Team and 3-8 Dallas Cowboys.

But those last two against Arizona and Seattle will be vital.

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Again, another loss or two by the Niners will severely hinder any chance they have of making the postseason.

If San Francisco is in the picture, though, both Garoppolo and Kittle will need to be available.