John Lynch expressed some concern about George Kittle's Week 4 status during an interview Thursday, and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan echoed that concern Friday about the star tight end's availability for the Week 4 tilt vs. the Seattle Seahawks.
"I hope so," Shanahan said when asked if Kittle could play Sunday (h/t 49ers Web Zone). "I wish I could state it like that, but it's not guaranteed. We were hoping it would heal a little bit more and expected it to by yesterday. He went out to give it a go in walk-through and it was just still bothering him, so we shut him down for the day.
"I haven't seen him yet today. Hopefully, he's coming in today, feeling better. He'll get a few reps out there today, and then we're hoping he'll be ready by Sunday."
Lynch recognized how hard Kittle plays, and how that all-out tenacity can lead to some bumps and bruises.
“I think the combination of that, at times, he sells out. He’s got a calf that’s a little tight, and he’s working through that," Lynch said Thursday on KNBR. "But George usually rings the bell and shows up, and you can’t take that for granted. We’re hopeful that we have him, and we certainly need him. He’s a tremendous player, as we saw the other night and have seen so many times.”
Shanahan said although Kittle missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the tight end will play Sunday if he feels good enough to go.
"Even if he doesn't go today, George is a guy who's played long enough, who plays the game as hard as he possibly can, whether he practiced that week or not," Shanahan continued. "So, George is a guy that if he doesn't practice, he's still going to have an option to play in that game.
"As long as it's not risking him, we'll give that decision all the way up to kickoff, if need be."
The 49ers went 3-5 in the eight games Kittle missed a season ago, and when he is at full strength, the tight end unquestionably is the 49ers' greatest offensive threat.
Especially as the vertical passing game has drawn criticism through the early part of the season, being without Kittle only will make it more difficult for the 49ers to stretch the Seahawks' defense.
We'll see if the tight end can heal up quickly enough to suit up for a pivotal game against the Seahawks in Week 4.