Bengals players, coaches sound off on Kittle's performance


CINCINNATI — George Kittle had a record-setting game in the 49ers' 26-23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the opposing players and coaches couldn’t help but take notice. 

The All-Pro was unstoppable catching 13 of his 15 targets for 151 yards and one touchdown. Every defense Kittle faces attempts to have a plan to make him a non-factor in the game, but with the 49ers' run game limited to 100 yards, Kyle Shanahan needed Kittle to step up and he answered. 

Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor headed into Sunday’s game with a plan in place to at least limit Kittle’s production, but the star tight end showed why he is one of the best in the game. 

“We tried everything,” Taylor said. “He’s one of the best tight ends out there. We’ve known that for a long time. He had similar production last week -- he had almost 200 yards receiving -- so it’s not like he surprises people. 

“You saw the catch he made that almost won them the game in regulation and put them in field-goal range. When a guy is that explosive, and has that big of hands with that kind of catch radius, he makes a lot of plays. And I promise we tried like hell to take him away, and he just finds a way to make those plays.”

Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton has a ton of respect for Kittle and Shanahan and knew it would be a tough matchup. With skill players like Kittle and Deebo Samuel involved in pre-snap motions, opposing defenses have a lot to try to decipher as a play starts to unfold. 


“To start with, coach Shanahan is an offensive mastermind,” Hilton said. “His record speaks for itself. He’s a guy that can get playmakers the ball in different positions and do what he does. 

“Today, he did that with George and we just couldn’t stop him. He was making a lot of plays over the middle of the field and running after the catch. We feel like we take those plays away and we’re in a better position.”

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Bengals pass rusher Sam Hubbard complimented Kittle not only as a playmaker with the ball in his hands but also as a blocker. The defensive lineman shared that the defense’s job was that much more difficult with both Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk mixing it up in the run game. 

When a reporter asked if Kittle is better than people think, Hubbard was in disbelief that was even a question. 

“I don’t know who doesn’t think he’s good, but he’s obviously at the top of his position,” Hubbard said. “The thing that separates him is he can block and catch. He’s an incredible blocker and the things they do in the run game center around him and Juszczyk.

"He’s kind of set a standard for the tight end position. Kittle had some amazing catches.” 

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