The 49ers will be without All-Pro George Kittle in Week 5 and for two more games beyond, and Trey Lance could sorely miss him versus the Cardinals.
While the 2-2 San Francisco 49ers world is focused on rookie quarterback Trey Lance being set to make his first-ever NFL start in Week 5 against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, a less-discussed development could play a major role in the No. 3 overall pick’s maturation process.
All-Pro tight end George Kittle, who had been dealing with a calf injury the past couple of weeks, recently landed on injured reserve and has to miss at least three games. According to the latest reports, the Niners felt Kittle would be playing at less than 100 percent for the rest of the season if he didn’t fully heal.
Unfortunately, Kittle’s otherwise exemplary career has been marked by a number of injuries, including missing half the season in 2020 and now at least three games.
Lance, who is making his first start in the wake of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo‘s own calf injury suffered during the Week 4 home loss to the Seattle Seahawks, will be without one of San Francisco’s top offensive weapons.
Trey Lance will miss George Kittle in 49ers’ NFC West bout vs. Cardinals
The 49ers are already under a lot of pressure to right the ship after back-to-back losses, which forced them to fall to the bottom of a tough NFC West after four weeks.
Arizona, boasting the league’s No. 1 offense entering Week 5, needs to be offset by Niners players carrying their own on offense, keeping quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ own offense off the field as much as possible.
And while Kittle might have gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, there’s no doubting his presence would have made Lance’s life a little easier.
After all, young quarterbacks often look to their tight ends as preferred targets.
Related Story: 3 reasons why George Kittle is off to a slow start in 2021
No. 2 tight end Ross Dwelley, whose one pass caught this season went for a touchdown in Week 4, likely winds up being Lance’s go-to target in these situations, although it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see the rookie quarterback look for wide receiver Deebo Samuel, whose 490 receiving yards has led the league.
San Francisco and Arizona kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET from State Farm Stadium.