George Kittle is as competitive as they come on the field, but it doesn’t stop there.
When the 49ers' star tight end and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo were both placed on injured reserve after the 49ers' loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8, Kittle light-heartedly announced a bet on his Instagram story: “The first one back wins.”
“I win,” Kittle said on Thursday. “My bet with Jimmy is just that I get to talk trash to him more than I already do. QBs get a harsh time from the media and Twitter and all, but if I can just make Jimmy’s day a little harder every once in a while, I’ll take it.
"I’ll jump at that opportunity.”
Garoppolo initially suffered a high ankle sprain in the 49ers' Week 2 win over the New York Jets. He was not 100-percent, but returned to play in four games before re-injuring the same ankle in Week 8.
Kittle suffered a broken bone in his foot in Seattle and missed six consecutive games after already missing Weeks 2 and 3 with a knee sprain. He returned to practice prior to the team’s Week 15 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but was not given the option of playing.
When Kyle Shanahan finally posed the question if he’d like to play in the final two games of the season, Kittle had a quick response for his head coach.
“He asked me if I wanted to play and I said, ‘Hell yes,’ and he said, ‘Sounds good,’ and that was our conversation,” Kittle said.
With the 49ers eliminated from playoff contention, it could be considered risky for Shanahan to put his best offensive player on the field. The head coach clarified that, as always, the team will be careful with any players coming back from an injury and Kittle will be on a snap count when he's expected to return Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“We got an idea in our mind,” Shanahan said. “We’re not going to give you the number because you guys will hold us to it way too hard. We understand, he’s in great shape and he’s conditioned very well, but he hasn’t been playing a lot of football here in a while.”
Kittle confirmed that he will take whatever amount of plays Shanahan gives him, understanding it won’t be his usual allotment of nearly every offensive snap. The tight end is just happy to get to suit up and play because the alternative is “not very fun.”