The San Francisco 49ers finally have gotten some good news on the injury front.
All-Pro tight end George Kittle practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day on Thursday in a sign that he could be ready to return after missing one game with a knee injury.
“The last two days have gone well,” Kittle said from the team’s temporary base in West Virginia. “I just feel better every single day so that’s awesome. Just being able to go out there and play football a little bit has been great.”
It was a lot better than being stuck at home last week watching as several of his teammates got hurt during a 31-13 win at the New York Jets that left many 49ers players complaining about the stickiness of the turf at MetLife Stadium.
Defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas went down with season-ending knee injuries in the game, while quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo left with a high ankle sprain and running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman had injuries that will likely sideline them for a few weeks.
“I watched the first quarter and then I saw two injuries and I went outside and did my workout. I decided I was bad luck watching the game on TV,” Kittle said. "Watching the Niners on TV is not really fun when I should be on the field with them. So I’m looking forward to the next time I get the opportunity to play again, whenever that is. I can’t wait.”
Kittle said he is not worried about the playing surface at MetLife Stadium despite the injuries to his teammates. The NFL said the turf passed inspection before the game last week and it was cleared again Thursday ahead of the Niners' return to that stadium to face the New York Giants.
Kittle got hurt when he was hit late in the first half of the opener by Arizona safety Budda Baker while trying to reach for a high pass from Garoppolo.
The hit drew complaints from some Niners fans but Kittle said there was no intent to injure on the play and he holds no ill will toward Baker.
“He’s the first person who asked if I was OK and apologized for the hit,” Kittle said. “It’s football. I get hit all the time. That’s what you sign up for when you play the game. It was a clean hit.”
Getting Kittle back would provide a big boost for the defending NFC champion 49ers. He is one of the most important pieces in San Francisco’s offense as both a dominating run blocker and the team’s biggest threat in the passing game.
His 216 catches for 2,945 yards are the most ever for a tight end in his first three NFL seasons.
Kittle build a strong rapport with backup quarterback Nick Mullens in the second half of the 2018 season when Garoppolo was sidelined by a knee injury and is confident they can pick that back up if Mullens starts as expected on Sunday.
“Same old Nick that I saw in 2018. He’s locked in,” Kittle said. “He’s got the game plan down. He’s got a rocket for an arm. He’s slinging it. He’s confident. I know he’s just excited to get the opportunity to play. If he gets to play, I know he’s going to take advantage of that situation because that dude loves football and he’s going to give it his all. We’re definitely in good hands if Jimmy can’t go.”
NOTES: LB Dre Greenlaw (quadriceps) didn’t practice Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. ... CB Jason Verrett should be ready to play this week after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. ... DE Dee Ford remains sidelined by a bad back.
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