George Kittle Critical To San Francisco 49ers In Deebo Samuel’s Absence

George Kittle Critical To San Francisco 49ers In Deebo Samuel’s Absence

San Francisco 49Ers, George Kittle

12/6/2021 11:31:00 AM

George Kittle Critical To San Francisco 49ers In Deebo Samuel ’s Absence

His primary impact of late has been as a blocker for Deebo Samuel but, with the wide receiver out injured, expect George Kittle to have an expanded role against Seattle.

With his success as a wide receiver and as a runner out of the backfield, no player has been more crucial to San Francisco's turnaround than Samuel, who has 305 yards and five touchdowns from scrimmage over the last three weeks.But the Niners must now adapt and attempt to maintain their proficiency on offense minus his ability to consistently turn his touches in the backfield into game-changing plays, a trait that has made San Francisco's rushing attack near-impossible to defend.

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How will the 49ers account for the loss of that string to their bow? Kittle may be a part of the solution.It is unlikely the Niners will line Kittle up in the backfield on a regular basis. However, he ranks 12th in yards after catch per reception with 6.8, according to the NFL's

NextGen Stats.Having been used on a tight end screen in the red zone on a scoring drive against the Minnesota Vikings last week, the 49ers may look to rely heavily on short targets to Kittle as an extension of the running game and use his speed and power in the open field to their advantage.

Though he has a touchdown in three of the last four games, this has been a quiet season by Kittle's standards.His cause was not helped by a three-game absence due to injury, but his less impressive numbers are also partially a result of the emphasis on Samuel and the run game, with Kittle asked to use his exceptional blocking ability more often than his skills as a receiver.

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But, alongside Samuel, Kittle is the most versatile weapon on the Niners' offense, able to serve both as an extension of the running game with what he can do after the catch and as a dynamic pass catcher on intermediate and deep routes.With Samuel on the shelf, expect Kittle to be tasked with fulfilling each of those roles to ensure the Niners’ offense continues to excel against Seattle.

Elijah Mitchell will still be pivotal to the running game while the Niners will surely look for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to continue his own surge with his difficult start to the year a distant memory.Yet in the game he acknowledges will be the Niners’ most challenging of the season, there is no player more critical to their hopes of coming through that test than Kittle.

Read more: Forbes »

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