Kittle's monster game helps keep 49ers' playoff hopes alive


CINCINNATI — In the 49ers' 26-23 win over the Bengals, George Kittle had a historic performance that also helped keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.

The All-Pro tight end finished the game catching 13 of his 15 targets for 151 yards and a touchdown. He now has a single-season career-high of six touchdowns and 20 in his career. 

Maybe even more impressive is that Kittle became the first tight end in NFL history to register 150 or more receiving yards and one touchdown in back-to-back games. The veteran tight end is also the first member of the 49ers to accomplish the feat since Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens in 2002 [171 yds. at San Diego (11/17/02) and 166 yds. vs. Philadelphia (11/25/02].

What Kittle brings to the game both on and off the field is felt by his coaches and teammates. Brandon Aiyuk, who made the game-winning touchdown reception is highly impressed by his fellow skill player.  

“Man, that is a different dude,” Aiyuk said. “I’m not sure of his numbers but he is a really special dude. There are a lot of times where something might not be going your way and it’s frustrating, and here comes George picking you up, talking to you. 

“His ability to stay even-keel throughout the whole game is something I try to take from him. It’s great to have somebody like that.” 


Nearly 37 percent of Jimmy Garoppolo’s targets went to Kittle. Knowing that the tight end’s catch radius is wide, the quarterback has relied on him to help keep drives alive especially in the second half. 

“George showed up today,” Garoppolo said. “He really did. At the end of the game, George stepped up and made plays. That one on the two-minute drive was a hell of a catch by George on the out-route. When you have a guy like that you can lean on, it’s a nice feeling as a quarterback.” 

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Kyle Shanahan knows Kittle is one-of-a-kind especially in what he does for the offense and the team in a leadership role. At one point in the fourth quarter, the All-Pro got up slowly off the grass after making a catch. Kittle was later seen sitting on the bench with a heated compression sleeve on his right calf. 

“Kittle goes until he can’t,” Shanahan said. “He gives us a ton. George, I mean, you guys know his personality and everything. First of all, in the run game, with how explosive and violent he is and how good of a blocker he is. In the pass game, he’s as explosive a tight end as there is, and helped us good out there on the field today.”

Kittle himself reported after the game that he was feeling fine, just a little sore from the turf that felt like cement was underneath it, but nothing out of the ordinary after a tough game. Of course, winning makes everything seem better.