NFC Notes: George Kittle, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks

49ers

49ers TE George Kittle was dealing with a core muscle tear to end the 2023 season, and he underwent surgery this offseason. Kittle lost 30 pounds after surgery because he couldn’t do much physical activity, but he’s almost back to full health. 

“I couldn’t lift,” Kittle said, via Will Simonds of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I couldn’t do any upper body because of my shoulder and my rib, and I couldn’t do lower [body] because of my core surgery. . . . I didn’t lift from the Super Bowl until like almost mid-March. I went a month without doing anything. I wasn’t supposed to do anything.”

Cardinals

The Cardinals signed Austrian TE Bernhard Seikovits using the NFL’s International Pathways Program in 2021. Seikovitz discussed making the most of this chance despite how difficult it is to be away from his family back home. 

“I’d have hoped they would’ve kept me around (without the rule change),” Seikovits said, via Darren Urban of the team’s website. “It gets tough of course. I feel like the only reason it’s tough for me is because I am away from home. Everybody lives their life over (in Austria), my grandparents are getting older, they want to see me and my girlfriend and when we get married and stuff like that. They want to experience all that and they won’t get any younger.”

“But the way I see it is I am only young once and only have this opportunity once in my life. Not really focused on missing out there, focused on what I need to do here.”

Seahawks

Seahawks WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba feels he gained a lot of knowledge as a rookie after facing “a lot of ups and downs.”

“I felt like it was a good foundation,” Smith-Njigba said, via Brady Henderson of ESPN. “I can grow from it. A lot of growing pains, a lot of ups and downs, but kind of similar from first years of college and in high school. Kind of the same thing.”

Regarding breaking his left wrist in last year’s preseason, Smith-Njigba said it required some time to get comfortable but is fully recovered from the injury. 

“I would probably say it took me a couple games [to get comfortable],” Smith-Njigba said. “I wore a cast for the first two games, but the training staff did an amazing job here and we got that covered and I feel great now. Towards the middle, end of the season I felt great, so it was good.”

Seahawks HC Mike Macdonald said the receiver can play outside or inside roles and will benefit from OC Ryan Grubb‘s system. 

“He’s just a hard cover, man,” Macdonald said. “He can play outside, inside, and Grubb does a great job of kind of moving guys around and finding some matchups. His lower body power and flexibility and being able to accelerate and obviously just having great hands and being able to track the ball is pretty impressive.”

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