George Kittle is on pace for a record-setting Sunday in Week 17, but he isn't the only NFL tight end in that position.
Kittle, who leads the 49ers with 1,228 receiving yards this season, needs 100 on Sunday to break New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's single-season record of 1,327 yards. Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, meanwhile, only needs 54.
“It’s a target,” Kittle said Wednesday (via SFGate). “I definitely want to get it done. It’s not a lost cause if I don’t get it done, but it would be really fun for us.”
The 25-year-old is in the middle of one of the best seasons from a 49ers tight end in franchise history. With one game to go, he is already 263 yards clear of Vernon Davis' previous franchise record. Kittle needs only four receptions on Sunday to surpass Eric Johnson's single-season record (82), and seven more targets to surpass Davis' record (128).
Since Nick Mullens took over at quarterback in Week 9, Kittle is averaging six receptions -- on 9.3 targets -- for 92 yards per game. In other words, the NFL record for yards and the 49ers' record for catches from a tight end are well within Kittle's normal range. But, the QB said that doesn't mean the 49ers are going to force Kittle the ball.
“We’re aware of it — we know the situation,” Mullens said. “But at the same time, we’re trying to win the game. So if it happens, it happens and that’s awesome. Kittle has had one heck of a year and he deserves a ton of credit. … We’ll see how it shakes out.”
Also working in Kittle's favor is his opponent's defense. The Los Angeles Rams have allowed the 10th-most yards by tight ends this season (920), and the third-most targets. Those 116 targets have only translated into 70 receptions, however.
What isn't helping Kittle's pursuit of the record is Kelce and the Chiefs' matchup. The Raiders have allowed the fourth-most yards (998) to tight ends.
Kittle will need some luck on his side to break Gronk's record and surpass Kelce, but neither notion is out of the question.