The San Francisco 49ers are facing the possibility of being without one of their top offensive players in Sunday's season opener against the Chicago Bears.
Per ESPN's Field Yates, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday that star tight end George Kittle is dealing with a groin injury that could affect his status for Week 1.
Shanahan noted he was "not sure" how serious Kittle's injury is, adding, "I was hoping he'd be good today. He did it a little on Monday and not feeling good today."
Kittle is a pivotal piece of San Francisco's offense and was expected to play a big role this year as second-year quarterback Trey Lance takes over as the starter. Having a big tight end such as Kittle as his security blanket is sure to make life easier for Lance as he continues to develop.
A five-year veteran, the 6'4", 250-pound Kittle was selected to his third Pro Bowl last season after posting 71 catches for 910 yards and a career-best six touchdowns in 14 games. He signed a five-year, $75 million contract extension in 2020, which made him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL by total guaranteed money.
The 49ers restructured his deal earlier this offseason, which freed up $8.33 million in cap room.
If Kittle were to miss time, it would leave the 49ers without one of their best pass-catchers. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is already the focal point of the team's passing attack, but he surely benefits from Kittle drawing attention from opposing defenses. Third-year wideout Brandon Aiyuk will have to prove he can be a viable No. 2 option behind Samuel.