As the future of the 2020 NFL season remains in flux, 49ers tight end George Kittle admits that games without fans could work in their benefit. Kittle cited the Seahawks and Saints as teams with major home-field advantages.
“Home games will definitely be weird but if I can go into Seattle or New Orleans without fans there, that will make my job a lot easier,” Kittle said, per NBC Sports. “I wouldn’t have to listen to anything. No more silent counts, nothing like that. That would make my life really easy. Hey, I’ll play on the road. That’s fine. No worries with that.”
Kittle admits playing against the Seahawks without fans would make things easier, but the star tight end is not necessarily hoping this becomes a reality. Kittle noted that fans are “what makes the game so much fun.”
“[The] fans are what makes the game so much fun, whether it’s winning a game and your stadium is going ballistic or you win a game on the road and the crowd goes silent,” Kittle explained as NBC Sports Bay Area detailed. “Both of those are some of the pinnacles of football for me, just hearing that. So it will be definitely different if that’s what happens. Like I said, I’m just going to focus on what I can control, and if I can just go play football then I’ll be pretty happy.”
The Niners Are Banking on Improving Through the NFL Draft
The 49ers are coming off a Super Bowl appearance and will return the core of their team. Seattle was able to compete with San Francisco throughout 2019 but ended up losing the division by just a few inches on the final play of the regular season.
The biggest move the Niners made this offseason was trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts for the No. 13 pick. Buckner helped make the 49ers’ defensive line one of the best in the NFL, but the trade frees up cap space for San Francisco in the coming years.
It remains to be seen what direction the 49ers will go with the high pick, but many expect the team to target a wide receiver given the quality at the position. San Francisco has also made a couple of key re-signings including defensive end Arik Armstead.
The NFL Announced Plans for a Virtual Offseason Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
Kittle’s comments about playing games without fans are hypothetical as no one knows how the upcoming NFL season will play out. The NFL announced plans for a virtual offseason where coaches will be permitted to communicate with players under certain parameters instead of on-field workouts that normally take place in the spring.
The NFL draft will go on as scheduled but teams will all be working remotely rather than the typical spectacle that the event has become. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll emphasized that his staff is preparing as if everything will happen as planned in the fall.
“It’s no different than everybody is in the whole world right now,” Carroll noted, per Pro Football Talk. “We’re all kind of in flux so I think the mentality and attitude is what’s most important. We’re going to figure it out and work through it and we’re going to be open to the change and willing to be adaptable and all of that so our mindset is real good about it and I think it goes kind of across the board for everybody. We’re all living that way right now.”