- The 49ers have activated George Kittle for Saturday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
- Kittle has missed the team’s last six games with a foot injury.
- San Francisco is a five-point underdog against Arizona.
The San Francisco 49ers have been eliminated from the postseason but don’t tell that to George Kittle.
After missing the 49ers’ last six games with a fractured foot, San Francisco’s superstar tight end will be activated from the team’s injury reserve list in the next 24 hours, clearing way for his return during the team’s Week 16 game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
49ers George Kittle will return from foot injury to play vs. Cardinals: https://t.co/kmXwNh3nON
— Ken Capurso (@KenCapurso) December 25, 2020
GEORGE KITTLE ON SATURDAY!!! pic.twitter.com/mBJlRxvQct
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) December 25, 2020
Last August, San Francisco made Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the history of the NFL by extending him with a five-year $75M deal. That was well-justified. His 2,945 receiving yards after three NFL seasons are more than the totals of Rob Gronkowski and Mike Ditka. In 2018, he set the TE record for most yards caught in a single season with 1,377. During the previous two seasons, his 2,430 receiving yards ranked 6th among all pass-catchers, regardless of position.
So when Kittle went down with the foot injury, the 49ers went 1-5, costing them their chance to return to the playoffs one year after appearing in the Super Bowl. Now that he’s healthy, San Francisco could’ve used caution, in preparation for a bounce back 2021. But for Kittle, it’s not about making the playoffs this year or bouncing back next season. It’s about winning games.
Those words are music to any coach’s ear. Well unless of course you are Kliff Kingsbury, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals who will face the 49ers this weekend.
Biggest NFL Upsets in the Last 25 Years
Biggest NFL upsets last 25 years:
SUNDAY: Jets +17 over Rams
2018: Bills +16.5 over Vikings
2019: Dolphins +16 over Patriots
2009: Raiders +14.5 over Steelers
MONDAY: Bengals +14.5 over Steelers
Favorites by more than 2 TDs were 106-3 SU (97.2%)
then 0-2 this weekend. Wow.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 22, 2020
Arizona has won three consecutive games and at 8-6, they currently hold the final playoff spot in the NFC. A win over the 49ers would put pressure on the Chicago Bears, the team trailing the Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card race. A loss by Chicago or a tie against the Jacksonville Jaguars puts Arizona through to the postseason.
Realistically however, what are the chances of the 1-13 Jaguars winning in Week 16 when they currently own the no. 1 overall pick of the 2021 draft? Online sportsbook SportsBetting.ag has Jacksonville as a +7.5 betting underdog against Chicago in the spread betting odds and a +320 dog at the moneyline. With more to lose (Think Trevor Lawrence) than to gain, that would be unlikely. But then maybe not.
It was ridiculous that the winless New York Jets would beat the Los Angeles Rams as +17.5 point underdogs last Sunday. That win forced the Jets to yield the top spot in the 2021 NFL Draft to the Jaguars. Then there were the Cincinnati Bengals who upset the Pittsburgh Steelers are +12.5 underdogs on Monday Night Football.
The upset wins by the Jets and Bengals are two of the top 5 biggest NFL upsets in the last 25 years and they happened on the same weekend. Prior to last week, teams who were favored by two TDs or more had a record of 106-3. Last weekend, they were 0-2. What were the chances, really?
49ers As Five-Point Underdogs
“He asked me if wanted to play and I said, ‘Hell, yes,’”: George Kittle spoke with Kyle Shanahan before it was determined he would return Saturday from a broken foot to play against the Cardinals.https://t.co/GG5TomA4sC
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) December 25, 2020
San Francisco heads to their Week 16 assignment as +5 point underdogs against the Cardinals who have more reasons to win the game than them. The 49ers are also +192 betting underdogs at the moneyline. George Kittle suiting up is good news for the team and their fans. But the 49ers continue to be hit by injuries.
Quarterback Nick Mullens, who has been promoted to starter after Jimmy G.’s injury, is now out with injury too. That leaves Kyle Shanahan with no choice but to go to third-stringer C.J. Beathard for Saturday’s game. Because they have no other QB in the roster, San Francisco signed Josh Rosen from the Buccaneers’ practice team to have a back-up.
The return of George Kittle won’t overhaul the struggling San Francisco offense. They have been hit by so many injuries that the return of one player, even if he is probably their best offensive weapon, may not be enough to make a big difference. Or could it? Kittle’s resolve to play the last two games despite having nothing to play for except pride sets a good example to his teammates. It could raise their level of play as well. Will the 49ers upset the Cardinals? We’ll see. But don’t say no.