49ers' George Kittle reveals he's playing through torn labrum; he has no plans to get surgery in the future
San Francisco's tight end is one of the toughest players in the NFL
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is one of the best in the business. The former fifth-round pick out of Iowa earned a First-Team All-Pro nod this season and has been voted to the Pro Bowl two years in a row, but has been playing through a tough injury. During a Sunday appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast, Kittle revealed that he has been playing with a torn right labrum for two seasons, and wears a gray protective sleeve around his right shoulder to minimize the pain.
"So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said, (H/T NBC Sports Bay Area), "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it — (The protective sleeve) basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time."
Kittle suffered the shoulder injury in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. He still played in all 16 games during the 2018 season, and he recorded a career-high 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns. Kittle set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end last season.
The 26-year-old had another great season in 2019, catching 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. He hasn't been a major part of the game plan in the postseason since the 49ers' running game has taken off, however, as Kittle has caught just four passes for 35 yards in two playoff games.
Kittle also revealed that there's "no chance" he gets surgery to fix the issue in the future.
"I can't miss those workout days, man," he explained.
Kittle may play a big role on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs. In order to keep pace with the most explosive offense in the league, Jimmy Garoppolo will have to throw the ball more than he has so far this postseason.