49ers' George Kittle Advocates for 2 Bye Weeks to Offset Toll of 17-Game Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 15, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 23:  George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers on the field before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 23, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Titans defeated the 49ers 20-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers star George Kittle wouldn't mind having an extra week off to account for the addition of the 17th game to the NFL's regular-season calendar.

"There's a huge physical toll," Kittle said on Kevin Hart's Cold as Balls series (via Taylor Wirth of NBC Sports Bay Area). "And like, 17 games is a lot. It's a lot of games, with one bye, whether it's Week 4 or the bye is Week 11. I'm advocating for two byes. But the physical toll you feel it week in and week out."

The most recent collective bargaining agreement laid out a new 17-game schedule that began in 2021. In an accompanying change, the NFL shortened the preseason from four games to three—at least for the teams that aren't slotted into the Hall of Fame Game.

One could argue that wasn't an equal trade.

While the threat of injuries exists in the preseason, those games aren't played with the same intensity compared to the ones that really matter in the regular season.

A second bye week could theoretically ease the growing physical burden on players. The last time the league experimented with the idea, though, the results weren't encouraging.

The NFL's television partners weren't happy about it. Sports Illustrated's Peter King thought teams were adversely affected by the second bye because it was another interruption to disrupt any momentum the players had built on the field.

But the NFL of 1993 isn't the NFL of 2022. The league has added four teams since then, which would alleviate what was an issue of having some weeks with too few games on tap. The schedule itself has changed, too, with Thursday Night Football and regular international games.

Regardless, this is a moot issue for the time being.

Considering the current CBA doesn't expire until after the 2030 season, a second bye likely isn't happening anytime soon despite how much support it might have from Kittle and others.