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George Kittle avoids serious shoulder injury after exiting preseason opener [report]

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers suffered five injuries during the first four drives, and six throughout the game’s entirety, of Thursday’s preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, a coach’s worst fear in a tuneup game.

The list of injured 49ers included second-year tight end George Kittle, who was sandwiched between two Cowboys defenders and crashed to the ground on a throw over the middle during the offense’s opening drive. Kittle jogged off the field holding his right arm in a stationary position. After the training staff tended to him on the sidelines, he walked to the locker room and did not return.

It appears Kittle has avoided suffering a major injury, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday morning.

This is relieving news for the 49ers. Even if Kittle is sidelined briefly, it appears he will not miss any time in the regular season. Cole Hikutini will fill Kittle’s void.

Kittle has had a tremendous training camp, frequently connecting with Jimmy Garoppolo over the middle. The Iowa product is looking to build upon a solid rookie season, in which he caught 43 passes for 515 yards. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has noticed Kittle’s progress.

“He was banged up a lot last year and he came in very healthy,” Shanahan said last week. “He’s also worked. He’s got his explosiveness back. He’s a physical guy who can block well and he’s got a year in the system where he’s got a lot more confidence. So, he’s not thinking as much out there. He’s definitely moving in the right direction.”


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