The reason George Kittle had the wherewithal to grab Jauan Jennings’ first NFL touchdown football in Philadelphia was because someone did the same thing for him.
As a 49ers rookie, Kittle took advantage of the time he spent with Pierre Garçon, and not just the “dark place” he would go to for his game-day mentality. The All-Pro tight end did the same exact favor for Jennings that Garçon did for him just five years ago.
“I learned that from Pierre Garçon,” Kittle said on Thursday. “Pierre is a guy, if you go back you can watch every touchdown from the first two seasons he was here, he would be the first guy down there. He would wait for the guy to spike it or drop it and he would go pick it up and quietly hand it to one of our equipment managers.
“He did that three times. He would go get a ball for me when I was, ‘Damn, I wish I would have picked it up. I was spiking it having a good time not thinking about it, but they are fun memories, especially a first touchdown ball.”
Garçon told NBC Sports Bay Area that he remembers Kittle’s first touchdown as if it were yesterday. It was Week 5 of Kyle Shanahan’s debut season in 2017 and Brian Hoyer was the quarterback.
The 49ers put together a 14-play, 94-yard drive that was capped by a catch and dive into the end zone by Kittle to tie up the game and force overtime. After Kittle celebrated, Garçon grabbed the ball and gave it to Doc Dressler for safekeeping.
“It was clutch,” Garcon said of Kittle’s score. “It was a thing we did in Indy. The equipment guys would always remind me to keep my first touchdown ball because it was such a cool thing to have, making it from D-3 to the Colts.
“So I just reminded all the younger guys to always keep their ball because it’s such a special moment. But most of the time we forget or spike it because we get caught up in the moment of scoring a touchdown.”
Kittle might not have kept all 14 balls from each touchdown he has scored over his career, but he does have the one Garcon retrieved for him in Indianapolis. The former 49ers receiver was happy to hear his favor has come full circle and that Kittle is keeping the tradition going.
"I know Jauan completely blacked out,” Kittle joked. “He has no memory of scoring. He probably doesn’t even remember what the play was. I knew he wasn’t going to find the ball and I just wanted to get that back to him.”