As soon as Kyle Shanahan said he was planning to play San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals, fans lost it. Rob Guererra told us it was a bad idea in his Stats and Eggs Wednesday morning. Later you will hear why Akash thinks it is cross-border “coaching malpractice” to play Kittle.
I disagree with all this.
Before we make the argument for why Kittle should play, here’s Kyle’s quote from Tuesday:
“If he is healthy, I just can not see the reason why not. It’s the same as every other player on our list. If you are healthy and do not risk anything, I mean we would never ask him to play injured or anything like that, but he had a good week of training last week. Most of the soreness disappeared and we will definitely test it again this week. But when you have a guy, if he is one hundred percent healthy and such, how do you sit a guy and then look at everyone else in the eye of the team?
There’s probably no one playing out there one hundred percent healthy right now. So when you are, there is a level of respect that the players have towards each other and everyone goes through this whole thing. Players risk every time they step on the field, no matter who you are, you risk your career. That’s what’s hard about this sport, and that’s why I do not think players get paid enough, even though many people disagree with me on it.
There are not many people in the world who can do what you do and you risk your future every time you go out there and that is no different for George. It’s no different for all the other 52 guys on our list. So of course I do not want to hurt George or anything like that, and that’s why we want to be too careful about it, and that’s why we’re been, but if anyone’s one hundred percent healthy, I can ‘t see the rest. of the team in the eye and tell them to play, but George does not. So it’s just part of having a team and part of treating people the right way. ”
I understand the opposition to Kittle games and the argument that superstar players get second treatment. Part of this conversation is about the fact that this is a professional sport. The highest paid tight end in NFL history is not treated as a sixth round tight end out of Georgia. Plus, as Shanahan mentioned, it’s a battle for the 49ers to field a full team.
The example I used was the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA last season. Their superstar, Kawhi Leonard, reportedly received treatment that no one else on the team could afford. Leonard showed up late to practice at times, flew in and out of LA on game day or practice and was not part of the “team”. Players notice this and start asking questions.
What Shanahan said above talks about team culture. Kittle is healthy. I’ve seen him run. He looks like No. 85. We have to assume Kittle is healthy. When you know Kittle is healthy, you get a funny look when you approach the team and they see that Kittle is not playing. Shanahan mentioned that he would have to pull people like Fred Warner, Trent Williams and maybe another of his best players if he was to give Kittle the “superstar” treatment.
Treating each player the same goes a long way. A lot of analyzes ignore the human element. It also skips Kittle, who is isolated in Arizona from his family, and football is the only activity he can perform. From creating the right culture to accountability. I think a lot of fans would be surprised to know that Shanahan does not hold back when it comes to “punishment”. If Richard Sherman does not do his job, Kyle will tell him about it. If Dontae Johnson does not do her job, Kyle will tell him about it. The players have said that they both appreciate how open and “genuine” Shanahan is to them.
It’s not the cards for this team to play a healthy player, and that’s not how Shanahan and the 49ers work. When we throw “there is a risk of injury” in a game where the best athletes in the world run into each other at full speed on each game, you do not add anything to the conversation. These players do not have the same mindset. This is their job and their livelihood. 49ers who have nothing to play for do not change the fact that there is a risk of injury.
In Kittle’s case, if he’s healthy, he’s playing. Why? Because that’s what football players do. Do you think refueling or injury has been in Kittle’s mind? I doubt it. He is wired in a way that he is thinking about getting on the field. It’s not about money, as Kittle’s 2020 salary is fully guaranteed. Healthy players play. Kittle is healthy, so he plays. Football players and coaches will win. Kittle gives San Francisco the best chance of winning when he’s on the field. Whatever we think, that’s what the team intends to do, and they do it.