After Week 4 of the San Francisco 49ers 2022 season, the team is in the exact same spot it was last year. Jimmy Garoppolo is the quarterback, and the team is 2-2. The 2021 season worked out pretty well from that point. The Niners lost their next two games but ultimately went 8-3 down the stretch and made the NFC Championship Game. This season, the franchise is looking to go one step further than last year and make the Big Game. However, star tight end George Kittle’s 2022 season may prevent that. Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy G need all the offensive weapons they can get, and, so far, the 49ers’ George Kittle hasn’t played like the All-Pro he is. Here is why Kittle is the 49ers’ biggest disappointment through the first four weeks of the 2022 NFL season.

49ers’ biggest disappointments in 2022

The San Francisco 49er picked Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound pass-catcher had a solid rookie season, starting seven of the 15 games he played in and catching 43 balls for 515 balls and two touchdowns.

In 2018, the bearded, long-haired TE made a massive leap and became one of the premier players at his position. He caught 88 balls that season for 1,377 yards and five TDs to make the Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro. A year later, Kittle’s stat line was 85 grabs for 1,377 yards, and another five TDs. He also made another Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro.

Since then, Kittle’s talent on the field has continued to be undeniable. That said, the tight end has had one massive problem that continues to haunt the George Kittle 2022 season: He can’t stay on the field.

The first reason that Kittle is the No. 1 disappointment of the 49ers 2022 campaign is that he’s only played half the games so far. A groin injury caused him to miss Week 1 vs. the Chicago Bears and Week 2 vs. the Seattle Seahawks. The team was 1-1 in those matchups.

This isn’t a new phenomenon for Kittle. After missing just three games in his first three seasons, Kittle has been on the sideline or in a skybox almost more often than he’s been between the lines lately. Over his second three seasons, Kittle has already missed 12 games due to injury.

This is a problem that is seemingly here to stay, and it would be a massive upset if George Kittle’s 2022 campaign didn’t include some more time on the injury report.

That’s bad news for Jimmy Garoppolo, who needs all the help he can get after getting replaced, shockingly staying with the team, and getting called into action when starter Trey Lance went down for the season.

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The 49ers backfield is already a MASH unit, with running backs Elijah Mitchell and rookie Tyrion Davis-Price already missing time. Left tackle Trent Williams also missed Week 4 and most of Week 3 with an ankle injury, so the 49ers 2022 offense needs more healthy stars.

With Kittle returning in Week 3 vs. the Denver Broncos, you’d think that would solve several of the 49ers’ problems, However, in the two games the team’s star TE has been back, he hasn’t been all that productive.

Against the Broncos, Kittle played 91% of his team’s offensive snaps but caught just four balls for 28 yards. The next week, against the Los Angeles Rams, Kittle was on the field for 94% of the 49ers’ offensive plays and only produced two catches for 24 yards.

These numbers are worrisome because they mean that the 49ers’ George Kittle is healthy enough to play almost the entire game but isn’t quite healthy enough to be productive. And this is the best-case scenario.

The worst-case scenario is that Kittle is healthy enough to play and healthy enough to be productive, but he just isn’t.

Just days away from his 29th birthday (October 9), Kittle has taken a lot of punishment in the NFL over his five-plus seasons. The tight end’s game has always relied on his size, speed, and physicality. He’s bigger than safeties, faster than linebackers, and tougher than both. That’s how Kittle became an All-Pro.

After constant injuries and approaching 30, there’s a chance that Kittle is more than just an early-season disappointment. With his injury history and style of play, there’s a chance he’s in rapid decline.

After just four weeks of the 49ers’ 2022 season, it’s too early to confirm this diagnosis just yet. It is clear that Kittle has been the team’s biggest disappointment thus far, though, and 49ers fans should keep an eye out to see if this tough start is an aberration or the new normal for the great tight end.