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The Rams have taken the 49ers to task for the past two years, something which George Kittle has readily admitted. The lone win out of the four games from the past two years, a season-ending 34-13 win on New Year’s eve in 2017, was against the Rams’ B team, which, as Kittle said, provided little satisfaction.
“They’ve whooped us the last couple times we’ve played them,” Kittle said. “The time that we did win, they were sitting a bunch of starters and so this will be a fun one. We might not be full go, we’re missing some tackles and our fullback. I think we’re ready for this more mentally as a team than we have been in the past.”
For the first time since the 2012, the 49ers are atop the NFC West after five weeks, and can retain control of their divisional fate with a win on Sunday. Kittle figured (and still does) to be a massive part of Sunday’s game, but picked up a groin injury on practice on Friday, leaving his status as questionable. He was out on the field for warmups and was in lengthy communication with 49ers’ head of player health and performance, Ben Peterson after finishing his routine.
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) October 13, 2019
Kittle was not expected to be among the 49ers’ inactive players, and that was confirmed just after Kittle finished up his warmups. There weren’t any surprises in the inactives, with only two spots in question (the other five taken by C.J. Beathard, Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, Kyle Juszczyk and Ahkello Witherspoon). Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor and wide receiver Jordan Matthews took the other two spots. Taylor has been inactive for the past two games, and head coach Kyle Shanahan said he expected for Matthews to be inactive, with Jeff Wilson Jr. providing value as a fullback option.
With Staley, McGlinchey and Juszczyk all out, Kittle’s value as a blocker and fullback option is massive, but it remains to be seen how he’ll be used, especially if his groin is indeed an issue. Regardless, he’ll be on the field, and his excitement for the first division game of the season against the defending NFC champions likely won’t be diminished by his injury.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Kittle said. “It’s a game that we want to win and we’re going to do whatever we can to win that. It’s something I’ve had circled on my calendar for a while. I’m just really looking forward to be able to go back down there and finally give them a good fight, because I feel like the last two times we’ve played them, we haven’t really given ourselves a shot at all. We’ve had turnovers left and right and I think the last time we were down 24-0 before the game even started. That’s what it felt like. We’re going to do our best to not put ourselves in that situation.”