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49ers' Kittle takes turnover solution into his own hands

NBC Sports

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end George Kittle is taking the idea of ball security into his own hands.

Literally.

The 49ers committed two turnovers through their first four possessions in Week 9 against the Arizona Cardinals. Those mistakes set the tone for the team’s 31-17 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

Kittle lost a fumble at the end of an 18-yard reception at the Arizona 43-yard line to open the team's second possession. It was the first lost fumble of Kittle’s 61-game NFL career.

This week, Kittle is doing something about it as the club prepares for a critical game Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams.

Kittle has carried around a football all week when he is not on the practice field. It is something he said he often does in the offseason, too.

“I think it’s the first fumble I’ve lost, so it’s annoying,” Kittle said. “I don’t want it to happen again, so it just adds a little extra emphasis on it (holding onto the football)."

The Cardinals capitalized on Kittle’s error with a touchdown drive. Later, another 49ers drive ended with Brandon Aiyuk's fumble deep in Arizona territory.

“It was my choice to hurdle a guy and lack ball security, and that led to a fumble,” Kittle said. “How do I change that? I carry a football around so I’m holding onto it more.

“You always have a choice of how you respond to [a] situation, and I always try to get ahead of the thing. You got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘This is what I’m doing wrong, and how am I going to fix it?’ I’m not going to blame someone else for it, but I’m going to fix it doing this.”

 

Linebacker Fred Warner also has been carrying a football around this week, Kittle said. The 49ers' defense has generated just five takeaways through eight games.

RELATED: 49ers' Warner not living up to own high standards in 2021

Only the New York Jets have a worse turnover margin than the 49ers’ minus-9. The 49ers have lost eight fumbles and thrown six interceptions. The Cardinals last week used the 49ers’ three turnovers to pile up a 13 1/2-minute advantage in time of possession.

“I think it’s been pretty obvious that turnovers have been the reason why our offense has been very stagnant at some times,” Kittle said. “We continually put our defense in tough spots with short fields.

“Our time of possession last week was absolutely brutal. We can’t be doing that to our defense if we expect to have a chance.”

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