SEATTLE — For the fourth time in 2019, 49ers tight end George Kittle finished a game with a 100 percent catch percentage. But that’s only one of the many reasons that he has become so important for San Francisco.
In the 49ers' 26-21 win in Seattle, Kittle caught all seven of his targets for 86 yards. He racked up 1,053 yards on the season, giving him his second 1,000 yard season in a row. Kittle is the only tight end in franchise history to have reached the milestone and now he has done it twice.
In 2009, tight end Vernon Davis tallied 965 yards on 56 receptions. Davis was, however, used regularly in the red zone, managing 13 touchdowns in both the 2009 and 2013 seasons. Kittle scored five touchdowns in each of the last two seasons.
Kittle has become famous for his ability to gain yards after the catch, at times with more than one player hanging off of his body. Facing Seattle was no exception where, according to Pro Football Focus, Kittle forced three missed tackles.
Kittle finished the season with an overall grade of 95.0 which is the highest overall grade for a season ever given to a tight end in the PFF era which started in 2006. The previous high of 92.0 was earned by Rob Gronkowski 2011. Kittle averaged 3.11 receiving yards per pass route run for the season which is the highest in the NFL among all offensive skill players.
None of those stats matter to the tight end who was just happy that his team clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
“I don’t know, it’s just an incredible feeling,” Kittle said. “Appreciation is a word of something I feel. Just the hard work we put in the last three years finally amount to something that matters. We’re definitely not done but this is something we’ll celebrate for the next 24 hours.”
What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is what Kittle brings to the table in run blocking and pass protection. His position coach John Embree has stated that the plays that he is most proud of are when Kittle doesn’t have the ball in his hands.
Kittle has also become a solid leader and role model in the locker room. His positive mind set and love for the game is obvious especially when he has not been able to play. Watching the final Seahawks drive go down to the goal line on Sunday reminded him of that mental challenge.
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“That felt like I was back in the press box again, watching and not being able to do anything,” Kittle said. “It was stressful. I didn’t leave the bench once. I just kind of watched the screen the whole time and our defense got it done.”
Heading back to Levi’s Stadium to play on Jan. 11 is what Kittle is really looking forward to.
“We get to play more football at Levi’s stadium. I’m really excited to be able to play in front of our fans again.”