With 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s high ankle sprain forcing him to sit out Week 3’s matchup against the New York Giants, this isn’t the first time the 49ers have had to figure out how to win without him.
Before signing a record-setting contract extension in the offseason, George Kittle spoke to Greg Olsen on the 14-year NFL veteran's podcast, “TE1,” about his 2018 campaign, including having to deal with the absence of Jimmy G, who tore his ACL and how they went about it.
“Three games into the season, I was at 150 yards receiving and then Jimmy got hurt against the Chiefs,” Kittle said. “I had a good game that game, but after that, like C.J. [Beathard] came in and since we were in college, he was just like, ‘Hey look, you’re open, I’m just throwing you the ball,’ so that was awesome.”
Kittle said during that offseason he had moved to Nashville, Tenn. and was training with Beathard. The two played football together at Iowa so it appeared the chemistry was never in question and the two were able to pick it up rather quickly.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection thrived in that 2018 game against the Chiefs, averaging 15.8 yards per reception and posting a 71.4 catch percentage.
Olsen admitted that a backup quarterback might be one of the best things to happen to a tight end.
Olsen explained that despite playing under quarterback Cam Newton about 99 percent of the time across nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, the handful of times backup quarterback Derek Anderson was in would cause Olsen to get a crazy amount of yards.
“I was going to have 300 yards a game,” Olsen said. “Anytime a starter goes down, it’s like the end of the world, but secretly to a tight end, selfishly -- you know your day is going to get busy.”
Obviously, that won't be the case for Kittle as he will miss his second straight game.
Kittle will not suit up for San Francisco after sustaining a bone bruise in his knee on top of an MCL sprain. However, it’s nice to know when Kittle is back, he could be getting the ball quite a bit from Nick Mullens.
“When Jimmy got hurt, we did a lot more run game, a lot more play-action, and I thrive in play-action,” Kittle said. “Running a shallow on a play-action is my favorite route in football.”
Perhaps that will be the plan when Kittle’s healthy.