George Kittle, who has not played since suffering a foot fracture back in Week 8, will be on the field when the 49ers face the Cardinals on Sunday. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan made the announcement Thursday afternoon.
A two-time Pro Bowler and 2019 All-Pro, Kittle has been pushing to play before the end of the 2020 season despite the 49ers having already been eliminated from playoff contention. The defending NFC champions have been decimated by injuries this season. Along with Kittle, the 49ers have sustained significant injuries to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, defensive ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, cornerback Richard Sherman, running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, center Weston Richburg, and tight end Jordan Reed, among others.
In terms of how impactful Kittle can be on Saturday, Shanahan said that his tight end feels great but will be on a pitch count. Shanahan added that Kittle is one of the healthiest players currently on the roster, according to NFL Network's Omar Ruiz. Kittle will face a Cardinals secondary that is led by Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker (104 tackles, two interceptions) and eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson (three interceptions, eight passes defensed).
Kittle will catch passes on Saturday from C.J. Beathard, who will play in place of injured quarterback Nick Mullens. With just one quarterback on their active roster, the 49ers claimed Josh Rosen from the Buccaneers' practice squad earlier this week.
The 8-6 Cardinals are 3.5-point favorites to beat the 5-8 49ers, according to William Hill Sportsbook, with the over/under set at 49 points. Both teams are 7-7 against the spread and 5-9 on the over/under this season. In their first matchup of 2020, a late Kyler Murray touchdown was the difference in Arizona's 24-20 Week 1 win. A win on Sunday would give the Cardinals their 10th win over the 49ers over their last 12 matchups.