SANTA CLARA – Tight end George Kittle is listed as doubtful to play in the 49ers’ game on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
But Kittle did not sound like a person resigned to his fate to watch another game from an 800 level suite at Levi's Stadium.
“I’m feeling fantastic,” said Kittle, who is expected to miss his second consecutive game due to left knee and ankle injuries.
Kittle spent the early part of practice on Friday with a member of the team’s strength and conditioning staff. Kittle wore a black hoodie as he went through his rehabilitation work.
“He’s definitely better this week than he was last week,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’ll see how these next two days go. We have him ‘doubtful,’ because we’d rather not (play him). We want him to be healthy throughout this year.
“Kittle won’t allow us to ever rule him out until it’s right at game time because he has done some pretty amazing things the last couple of years.”
Kittle sustained the injuries on the 49ers’ first play of their Oct. 31 game against the Cardinals. He returned to action and played 49 of the 49ers’ 70 snaps. He still managed to catch six passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Shanahan said he feels an obligation to protect Kittle from himself. After all, if it were up to Kittle, he would definitely play.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Shanahan said. “He played through the game two weeks ago with the same deal. That’s why he’s a guy you never count out. But you try to be smart with him, though. We’ll see how the other people do going up to kickoff.”
Kittle, running back Matt Breida, kicker Robbie Gould, left tackle Joe Staley and nose tackle D.J. Jones are not expected to play due to injuries.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is listed as questionable with a ribs injury. Sanders did not practice this week but he participated in walk-throughs on Thursday and Friday, suggesting a strong possibility he will be available to play on Sunday.
49ers injury report
DT D.J. Jones (groin)
T Joe Staley (finger)
RB Matt Breida (ankle)
K Robbie Gould (right quadricep)
TE George Kittle (knee, ankle)
LB Azeez Al-Shaair (concussion)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Dante Pettis (back)
WR Emmanuel Sanders (ribs)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot, quadricep)
Cardinals injury report
DE Jonathan Bullard (foot)
RB Chase Edmonds (hamstring)
CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring)
DE Zach Kerr (knee)
T Justin Murray (knee)
LB Terrell Suggs (hamstring, back)