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Kittle says he feels 'fantastic' after awkward leg injury

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SANTA CLARA – George Kittle did not look like a person who felt perfectly fine Sunday after a first-half play on which his left leg was injured.

But the 49ers' All-Pro tight end certainly was not going to lead on that he was not feeling well after the 49ers’ 24-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday the season opener at Levi’s Stadium.

“I feel fantastic,” Kittle said. “Fantastic. Not an issue at all.”

Kittle was a big factor for the 49ers’ offense in the first half, catching four passes for 44 yards. He added 9 yards rushing on a tight end-around run play.

Then, after his leg bent back awkwardly upon being hit by Cardinals safety Budda Baker on a high incomplete pass from Jimmy Garoppolo, Kittle did not touch the ball again.

After the play, Kittle was in obvious pain as he sat on the 49ers’ bench. He walked off the field with the team’s medical staff before the first half concluded. But he was back on the field to open the second half.

Although Kittle played nearly every snap of the second half, Garoppolo did not even throw a pass his way for the rest of the game.

“Other guys were open,” Kittle said. “That’s just the way the game goes sometimes. We’ll watch the film, see what happened, how I can be better, how I can be more open, and we’ll go from there. It’s all right. I’m not worried about it at all.”

 

A year ago, Kittle showed his toughness in a Week 9 game against the Arizona Cardinals. He sustained left knee and ankle injuries on the first play of the game, but remained on the field for 48 more snaps that game. He ended up missing the 49ers’ next two games.

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Coach Kyle Shanahan said Kittle told him he was good to go for the second half of Sunday’s game, but the team will have a better idea of any issues on Monday after another evaluation.

But Kittle seemed more concerned with how the 49ers’ offense struggled in the season-opening loss. The 49ers converted just two of 11 third downs and were 0-for-2 on fourth downs.

“I’m disappointed. Losing sucks. But we’re going to do everything we can to come out and win next week,” Kittle said.

“We had a lot of mistakes that was our biggest issue. We couldn’t get drives going. We couldn’t finish drives because of our third-down percentage. We have to be better. We’ll watch the film and we’ll come back better from it.”