At the tender age of 26, 49ers TE George Kittle has become arguably the best tight end in football. And his performance over the past several seasons is even more impressive in light of his recent revelation on a Pardon My Take podcast (h/t Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk).
Kittle said that he has played the past two seasons with a torn labrum, which he sustained in a 2018 preseason game. However, he has not gotten surgery on the injury and does not plan to.
“I can’t miss those workout days, man,” Kittle said, adding that there is “no chance,” he goes under the knife.
Assuming that he can tolerate the pain, there may be no reason for Kittle to get surgery, at least until his playing career is over. As Williams points out, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence played through a labrum tear for two seasons, though he ultimately did have it surgically repaired. Kittle, meanwhile, will continue to wear a protective sleeve to combat the injury.
The Iowa product is eligible for an extension for the first time this offseason, and he may be the player to finally reset the tight end market. Jimmy Graham‘s $10MM AAV has paced the market for years, and Trey Burton and Jordan Reed are currently at the top of the heap in terms of total guarantees ($22MM). Kittle should exceed both of those figures, and San Francisco is expected to prioritize a new deal for him.
Of course, before that happens, the 49ers will vie for their sixth Super Bowl title. Kittle’s performance in this weekend’s title bout will likely play a major role in the outcome of that contest.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.