49ers' George Kittle says he plays with torn labrum, won't get surgery


Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good. Every great athlete knows the mantra. 

George Kittle doesn't need much pizzazz on the field, though. The 49ers' star tight end usually wraps both his wrists with black tape and wears white gloves. That's it. 

Well, not exactly. Kittle also wears a gray protective sleeve around his right shoulder, too. The reasons stems from a 2018 injury he refuses to fix. 

"So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time."

Kittle injured his shoulder in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys during last season. But he didn't miss any games in the regular season, and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. 

Kittle also said there's "no chance" he gets surgery on his shoulder in the future. 

"I can't miss those workout days, man."

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Though Kittle missed two regular-season games in 2019, his absence stemmed from ankle and knee injuries. He still was ranked as Pro Football Focus' top player in the NFL despite the missed time.

The 49ers obviously will need a healthy Kittle to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, but even when he is less than 100 percent healthy, the tight end still dominates games.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

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