49ers roster: Why 2022 is so vital to All-Pro tight end George Kittle

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Why George Kittle actually regresses for 49ers in 2022

We’re not going to worry about George Kittle’s exceptional abilities as a blocker in this article. They’re up at the top, if not at the very top, for players at his position. That won’t change.

Instead, there are two key reasons why Kittle might not wind up being as impactful for the Niners as he used to be.

The first, of course, is the tight end’s injury history, which included missing half the season in 2020 with a variety of ailments and then missing a further three regular-season games a year ago. Like it or not, Kittle is a bit of an injury liability, and that could easily play a factor in him falling into the ranks of being an above-average tight end instead of an all-world one.

Additionally, one can fairly wonder if he’ll wind up developing that necessary chemistry with Lance.

The two haven’t spent much time on the field together. Kittle missed Lance’s first start in 2021, Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals, because of an injury. And when Lance was called upon to start San Francisco’s Week 17 game against the Houston Texans, Kittle caught just one pass.

It did go for 29 yards, though, so make of that what you will.

Still, it’s wholly reasonable to worry whether or not Lance will seek out Kittle as a go-to option, or if the quarterback might look in other directions more frequently, such as Deebo Samuel, which might take away Kittle’s ability to impact the offense from a statistical vantage point.