49ers roster: 5 players who must step up most after bye week

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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The 49ers will certainly enjoy a midseason bye week, but these five players have to perform exceptionally well during the second half of the year.

It seems rare the San Francisco 49ers have been able to have their annual bye week at an opportunistic time. A year ago, it was in Week 6, which didn’t quite help solve a 3-5 start. In 2019, albeit a year for a Super Bowl appearance, the Niners’ bye came in Week 4.

This year’s bye in Week 9 is about perfect. For starters, San Francisco heads into the two-week break fresh off a commanding win over its NFC West rivals, the Los Angeles Rams, and the additional rest should also afford head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. the opportunity to get some players back healthy from various injuries and injury lists.

A number of these players are going to be expected to contribute right away, and that helps underline the fact the 49ers will need a number of their players to step up in a big way after the bye week concludes.

Especially with a wide-open division and conference up for grabs.

Here are five upon whom the Niners will need to place a significant workload in the second half.

No. 5: 49ers tight end George Kittle

San Francisco’s pre-trade deadline pickup of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey alleviates a lot of pressure on many of the other offensive playmakers, including tight end George Kittle, whose 2022 campaign has gotten off to something of a slow start.

Granted, missing the first two games of the year with an injury didn’t help matters, but Kittle has only been a modest factor since that point, registering a mere 28 catches for 319 yards and two touchdowns.

Extrapolated over a 17-game season, Kittle would finish the year with just 677 yards, well below the kind of numbers he’s been able to produce with relatively healthy.

Sure, it’s possible Kittle is partially a victim of the 49ers now having too many offensive contributors and only so many touches to go around. And that’s fine.

Still, with games taking on more playoff meaning every week, Kittle will need to deliver at least two-plus games where he takes over as the X-factor.