It has been a long road for Jauan Jennings, and George Kittle wanted to make sure the young receiver reaped the rewards of the journey.
In the 49ers' 17-11 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, San Francisco struggled mightily in the first half. It wasn’t until Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers in a two-minute drill that the offense found its rhythm.
The 12-play, 97-yard drive that closed out the first half culminated in a touchdown pass from Garoppolo to Jennings, who was wide open on the play as multiple defenders focused on Kittle, who was nearby.
Jennings missed the entire 2020 season with a hamstring injury that Kyle Shanahan said was one of the worst he’s seen — it was almost completely torn off. Having his first NFL reception also be his first touchdown in the NFL was a moment not lost on the second-year pro.
Jennings was quite emotional when recounting the play after the game. He was so overwhelmed by the moment that he forgot one thing — to grab the ball in order to keep it as a memento.
Kittle, who celebrated with the wideout in the end zone after the score, realized what a significant moment it was for Jennings. The All-Pro scooped up the football and handed it to Doc Dressler, the 49ers' equipment manager of 20 years. Dressler safely packed the ball in one of the equipment trunks for the trip back to the Bay Area.
You can see Kittle grab the ball at the end of this video.
On Monday, Dressler confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area that the football was already safely in Jennings’ locker for him keep.
The Tennessee product finished the day with two catches for 17 yards, a touchdown and memories that he will never forget. Kittle and Dressler made sure he got the ultimate souvenir from the event.