Three-time Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle missed 49ers practice for the second consecutive day Thursday after injuring his groin Monday. His participation in the season opener Sunday at Soldier Field appears to be in jeopardy, as the 49ers typically equate availability Thursday to readiness for a game Sunday.
One of the sport’s elite tight ends, Kittle caught 71 passes for 910 yards in 14 games last year. He missed three games with a calf injury, including the 49ers’ win at Soldier Field.
Kittle posted 1,377 receiving yards in 2018 and 1,053 in 2019 before an injury cost him half the 2020 season.
The Bears’ injury report remained clean except for rookie receiver Velus Jones, who remained out with a hamstring injury, and defensive end Dominique Robinson, who was limited with a knee problem.
Lucas Patrick, who was penciled in to start at center before needing surgery to fix a broken right thumb in late July, was a full participant for the second consecutive day. It’s unclear if his hand is healthy enough to snap — or whether the Bears would move him to starting right guard if it’s not.
Offensive line coach Chris Morgan left open the possibility Thursday.
“He played everywhere in Green Bay,” he said. “He has a cool versatility. He always has.”
Robinson to play?
Asked about the Bears’ two prominent rookie defenders, defensive coordinator Alan Williams stopped and tried to correct the number. It should be three, he said — not just safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon, but Robinson, too.
On the surface, Robinson seemed primed for a redshirt year. He was a wide receiver at Miami (Ohio) until switching positions in 2020. The Bears’ decision to keep him on the roster when he had a knee injury around final cuts, though, sent a different message. Williams said he expects him to be healthy and on the active roster Sunday.
“The guys that are up, we expect to use them, and use them a lot,” he said.
Roquan on captaincy
Linebacker Roquan Smith had an unusual route to becoming a captain — he demanded a trade and published a statement trashing new general manager Ryan Poles for negotiating in bad faith. Smith said the honor means something because it was voted on by his teammates.
“That’s what truly makes a team, the guys in the locker room,” he said. “How the guys in the locker room view you, how they see you from their eyes, that’s all that matters to me. I think that speaks volumes. Everything else can go to rest.”
The Bears won’t accept cash at Soldier Field starting Sunday.
Fans must use a credit or debit card or mobile payment. Those with cash can exchange it for a prepaid Visa at the Bears’ ticket office at Gate 8 or at the pro shops near Gate 0, the “water wall” and the Club 100 levels.
The Bears claimed in a statement making Soldier Field cash-free increased safety, reduced touch points and shortening wait times. Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field and the United Center have been cashless this season.