Production has been missing in action for San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle so far this season.
Inactive for the first two games of the season, Kittle's return to the field has equated to just six receptions on nine targets for 52 yards over the last two games.
As 49ers fans and fantasy football owners alike wonder what's happening with the tight end's role in the offense, head coach Kyle Shanahan stressed that a healthy Kittle will be the Kittle of old -- eventually.
"Yeah, the more Kittle is out there and healthy, the more he practices, the more he can get back in the routine," Shanahan said Wednesday, via team transcript. "I think that stuff will take care of itself."
Showing up in surprising fashion on the team injury report ahead of San Francisco's opener, Kittle was sidelined the first two weeks of the season due to a groin injury. His return has been underwhelming so far from a statistical standpoint, but his usually stellar overall play also has also been subpar in comparison to what's accustomed from the three-time Pro Bowler.
Per Pro Football Focus, Kittle's earned an overall grade of 56.1 so far.
Perhaps more troubling is that Kittle's lack of statistical success goes beyond just his two games this year. Over his last eight games -- including three playoff games -- Kittle has had more than 29 yards receiving just once (63 against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round) and hasn't had more than five catches in any contest. All told, he's caught 21 balls for 220 yards in that span.
Nonetheless, Shanahan maintains he's not worried. The production will happen when it happens.
"The plays that went to him, I thought he did a good job on in the game," Shanahan said of Monday's win over the Los Angeles Rams in which Kittle had two catches on four targets for 24 yards. "Kittle affects the game in so many ways, the run and the pass. We definitely want to get him the ball more, but it's something we're not that concerned about. We think it'll take care of itself as we get going."
The Niners (2-2) face the Carolina Panthers (1-3) on Sunday, which stands as the next opportunity to see if the Kittle of old returns to form or the Kittle of late continues to be an afterthought in the San Francisco offense.