Jan 20, 2024; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) reacts after running past for Houston Texans defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) for a touchdown during the fourth quarter  in a 2024 AFC divisional round game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Lions serve as popular bets heading into title games

There has been little movement from the opening lines to the current spread in the AFC and NFC Championship games on Sunday.

The top-seeded Ravens opened as 3- and 3.5-point favorites by DraftKings and BetMGM, respectively, over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game in Baltimore. The line currently resides at 4.5 by both sportsbooks in favor of the Ravens, who are being backed by 59 percent of the bets and 72 percent of the handle at BetMGM.

BetMGM had the opening line and current spread staying level in the NFC Championship Game. with the top-seeded San Francisco 49ers serving as a 7-point favorite over the visiting Detroit Lions. DraftKings, however, saw its opening line of 6.5 jump to 7.5 in favor of the 49ers.

The betting public, however, is supporting the Lions, with the spread attracting 71 percent of the bets and 58 percent of the handle at BetMGM.

“The Lions are the most bet team to win and cover in the conference championship games,” said Christian Cipollini, trading manager, BetMGM. “BetMGM will be cheering for the 49ers on Sunday.”

As for player props, BetMGM noted the most bet (tickets) player props included Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson with over 64.5 rushing yards and 49ers wideout Brandon Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle over 75.5 and 58.5 receiving yards, respectively. All three are listed at -135.

BetMGM has Jackson (+100), Kittle (+115) and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (+115) as favorites to score a touchdown, while DraftKings has Jackson (+105), Lions rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs (+115) and Kelce (+120).

–Field Level Media

Aug 25, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA;  San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers rest TE George Kittle (groin), hope he’s ready for opener

The San Francisco 49ers hope that star tight end George Kittle will return to practice Monday after sitting out this week because of a “lingering” groin injury.

“We’re just taking care of him right now,” head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Thursday. “It’s still stuff lingering a little bit from when he has missed some time. … (Hopefully) we can get him going on Monday.”

The 49ers open the season Sept. 10 at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kittle, whose history of injuries includes missing the first two games of the 2022 season because of a groin strain, played 12 snaps in the preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 25. Kittle hasn’t played a full season since 2018.

“There’s always concern when something persists, and this has kind of lingered,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on KNBR. “George usually has about one of these things a year, and when he gets through it, he’s good. Knock on wood that’s the case.”

Lynch used the team’s term “de-load” to talk about cutting back on activity for individual players. Kittle has missed practice time during training camp in addition to limited action in the preseason games.

“The great thing about George is he attacks it,” Lynch said. “Man, we miss him when he’s not on the field, not only because of his ability, but the energy he brings, so there has been a little void here the last few days, but we’re trying to get him right. He’s another guy with a ‘de-load’ week. We want him right, we want it all-load for Pittsburgh.”

Kittle, 29, had 60 catches for 765 yards with a career-best 11 touchdowns in 15 games (all starts) last season.

An All-Pro in 2019 and a four-time Pro Bowl selection, Kittle has totaled 395 receptions for 5,254 yards with 31 touchdowns in 82 career games (74 starts) with the 49ers.

The 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Iowa.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates after a play during the fourth quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ George Kittle, Ray-Ray McCloud nursing injuries

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is nursing an adductor strain and wide receiver/kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud is dealing with a broken wrist, coach Kyle Shanahan announced Thursday.

While Kittle is expected to miss one week of action, McCloud reportedly will be sidelined as many as eight weeks. Veteran wideout Willie Snead IV, rookie wideout Ronnie Bell and rookie cornerback D’Shawn Jamison are potential candidates to handle return duties in place of McCloud.

Kittle, 29, had 60 catches for 765 yards with a career-best 11 touchdowns in 15 games (all starts) last season.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Kittle has totaled 395 receptions for 5,254 yards with 31 touchdowns in 82 career games (74 starts) with the 49ers.

McCloud, 26, had 14 catches for 243 yards and his first career receiving touchdown in 17 games (two starts) for the Niners in 2022. He averaged 23.0 yards per kick return and 10.8 per punt return last season.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Santa Clara, CA, USA;  San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) makes a catch during training camp at the SAP Performance Facility near Levi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: 49ers TE George Kittle (groin) out again Sunday

San Francisco tight end George Kittle is expected to miss his second straight game Sunday against Seattle, per multiple reports.

The 49ers star sustained a groin injury during a Sept. 5 practice session and did not return to practice until Friday, in a limited capacity.

Kittle, 28, caught 71 passes for 910 yards and six touchdowns in 14 starts last season.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection has not played a full season since 2018 due to various injuries.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) celebrates with tight end George Kittle (85) after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Deebo Samuel, George Kittle off injury report

San Francisco 49ers hybrid wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle were not listed on the team’s injury report Wednesday.

That is promising news for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the host Los Angeles Rams. Garoppolo is still nursing an ailing thumb, however coach Kyle Shanahan said the quarterback’s right shoulder injury is no long as an issue.

Samuel and Kittle were seen hobbling toward the end of sixth-seeded San Francisco’s 13-10 road victory over the top-seeded Green Bay Packers on Saturday in an NFC divisional-round clash.

Samuel, 26, was the 49ers’ most dangerous weapon on offense this season. He led the team in receiving during the regular season with 1,405 yards on 77 catches with six touchdowns, and added 365 yards and eight scores on the ground.

Kittle, 28, had 71 catches for 910 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games during the regular season.

Offensive tackle Trent Williams (ankle) and rookie running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) did not practice on Wednesday.

“In Trent’s mind, there’s no way he’s not playing,” Shanahan told reporters. “I know he believes he’s playing and so do I. … If he can, he will.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) jogs on the field during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers place TE George Kittle (calf) on injured reserve

The San Francisco 49ers placed two-time Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle on injured reserve Saturday with an ailing calf.

Kittle has been unable to practice all this week after being hampered by the injury since the season opener. He will miss the team’s next three games as a result of Saturday’s move.

Kittle has recorded 19 catches for 227 yards in four games this season. He has yet to score a touchdown for the 49ers (2-2), who face the undefeated Arizona Cardinals (4-0) on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

The 28-year-old was limited to eight games last season due to knee and foot injuries. He made the Pro Bowl in each of the previous two seasons, averaging 86.5 catches, 1,215 yards and five touchdowns.

Tanner Hudson has been elevated from the practice squad to the active roster to join fellow tight ends Ross Dwelley and Charlie Woerner.

Hudson, 26, has five receptions for 67 yards in 20 career games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019-20).

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs after a catch during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers TE George Kittle (calf) questionable for Sunday

The San Francisco 49ers could be without one of their most important players for Sunday’s showdown with the Seattle Seahawks.

Star tight end George Kittle (calf) is listed as questionable for the game between the NFC West rivals. He sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday before practicing Friday on a limited basis.

“I’m going to do everything I can to be able to be on the field on Sunday,” Kittle said Friday. “And then if the body says I can go, I’ll be out there.”

Kittle, who has been dealing with the calf injury since Week 1, has 15 catches for 187 yards this season. He has yet to score a touchdown.

The 27-year-old was limited to eight games last season due to knee and foot injuries. He made the Pro Bowl in each of the previous two seasons, averaging 86.5 catches, 1,215 yards and five touchdowns during those two standout seasons.

Running back Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) also is questionable for Sunday, while cornerback Josh Norman (lung) is doubtful.

–Field Level Media