SANTA CLARA — Saying that the absence of George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders had an impact on the 49ers in their 27-24 loss to the Seahawks on Monday night might be one of the biggest understatements of their season thus far.
Coach Kyle Shanahan just confirmed via conference call that both playmakers will be day-to-day for this week’s practice. They also likely will be game-time decisions for the team’s next matchup against Arizona on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
Sanders incurred a rib cartilage injury in Monday night’s game and George Kittle is still nursing a knee and ankle injury from the team’s Week 9 victory in Arizona. Like this week, Shanahan is hopeful for Kittle to be able to return and they will wait until Sunday to make the final decision.
“Kittle’s just a little bit of a different bird,” Shanahan said. “We’re never going to decide on Kittle too early in the week. He’s always got a chance with some of the stuff he’s been able to go through here in these last couple years.”
As an example, Kittle, had a rib cartilage injury last season. He wore special padding to prevent further aggravation to the injury as well as reduce the pain incurred by playing. Shanahan, however, could not confirm if the Sanders’ rib injury was similar to Kittle’s.
Shanahan will have to prepare for Jimmy Garoppolo’s top two targets to be absent on Sunday and knows how that could affect the outcome of a game. Kittle and Sanders combined for 191 receiving yards in Arizona which amounted to more than 60 percent of Garoppolo’s 317 passing yards.
“They’re our two best playmakers, so it definitely takes a toll,” Shanahan said after the game Monday night. “We knew that coming in with George. We kind of realized that was going to happen today. Emmanuel was out there battling. Had that happen with his ribs. He tried to go a few more series longer, but he had to go out. Other guys came in, some guys stepped it up at times. We just didn’t have the consistency out there.”
Kittle is the team’s top pass catcher with 46 receptions for 541 yards. In just two and a half games, Sanders has more receptions (13) than both Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, who have hauled in 11 apiece.
The tight end was seen in the press box Monday night in order to keep him from standing on his injured leg for over three hours. When asked if it was weird to be up there, he enthusiastically replied, "I hate it!"