SANTA CLARA, Calif. — For the first time in two weeks, the San Francisco 49ers will have their All-Pro tight end back in the starting lineup.
George Kittle, who suffered an ankle and knee injury against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 31, will play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football after being listed as a game-time decision by the 49ers earlier this week.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter early Sunday, Kittle played through a broken left ankle against Arizona after being injured on San Francisco’s first offensive snap of the night.
While the bone is not yet fully healed, the record-setting tight end feels good enough to play in a prime-time matchup against Green Bay that could have major implications for the NFC playoff picture.
This season, Kittle leads all 49ers pass-catchers with 541 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns.
With a team-high 303 yards after the catch (YAC) in 2019, Kittle’s aggressive playing style has dominated headlines and highlight reels, but it’s his run blocking that’s been missed the most.
In Kittle’s absence, the 49ers have recorded their two worst games of the season rushing the ball — an 87-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 and a 37-yard night against the Cardinals last Sunday.
Taking on a Packers team that’s averaged 25 points per game this season, including 30.8 in its last five wins, San Fancisco will need its best offensive weapon to maintain its half-game lead over Seattle in the NFC West.
Along with Kittle, the 49ers will also have wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) available on Sunday.
On the inactive side of things, the 49ers will be without offensive tackle Joe Staley (finger), running back Matt Breida (ankle), defensive lineman Dee Ford (hamstring), kicker Robbie Gould (quad), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (wrist) and backup quarterback C.J. Beathard (healthy scratch).