The San Francisco 49ers may be without two of their best players during Sunday's season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pro Bowl tight George Kittle is still dealing with a groin injury, while reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa continues to hold out.
Kittle, who has been dealing with the injury for about a month, did not practice on Monday but did do some individual work on his own. He managed to play 12 snaps in the 49ers preseason finale against the Chargers.
While Kittle has been around the team, the same can't be said of Bosa, who has trained on his own this summer. When asked about his star pass rusher last week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan remained hopeful that Bosa would be available for San Francisco's opening game.
"Hopefully we get a chance to get him into practice next week," Shanahan told KNBR's Tom Tolbert and Ray Ratto, via NBC Sports. "If he is, that'll make it a much easier decision for us."
The absences of both players would be significant for the 49ers, who are currently a 2.5-point favorite against the Steelers, via SportsLine's consensus odds. Kittle has been a Pro Bowler in four of the past five seasons. Bosa won the highest honor a defensive player can receive last season after tallying a league-high 18.5 sacks to go with a pair of forced fumbles and 19 tackles for loss.
If Kittle is inactive, Charlie Woerner is slated to replace him in the starting lineup. A 2020 sixth-round pick, Woerner did not catch a pass last season and has eight regular season receptions to his credit. If Bosa is out, the 49ers are slated to start defensive ends Drake Jackson and Clelin Ferrell. A rookie last season, Jackson recorded three sacks and one interception while playing in 15 games. Ferrell, a 2019 fourth-round pick, has two sacks last season while receiving four starts.
The 49ers will face a Steelers team that many expect to still be playing when the postseason begins in January. Pittsburgh's defense is led by perennial Pro Bowlers T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Heyward. The Steelers' offense is now led by quarterback Kenny Pickett, who led the starting offense on touchdowns on each of their five possessions during the preseason.