Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores knows that stopping George Kittle is an impossible task.
The All-Pro had a record-setting game in Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles, catching all 15 of his targets for 183 yards and a touchdown. Kittle was also used in the run game, not only as a blocker, but in a jetsweep that went for 10 yards.
Flores spoke to local Bay Area media on Wednesday and explained what a challenge Kittle and the rest of the 49ers offense is for an opposing defense.
“I don’t think you stop him, I think you just try to limit him,” Flores said. “I think you try to give him different looks, play zone, play some man. I think when you have a player like this you got to think about doubling.”
Of course when two defenders are on Kittle, another player will be left open and the 49ers offense has several candidates who will pick up any slack. Deebo Samuel is being worked back into the mix with Kendrick Bourne and rookie Brandon Aiyuk, not to mention the running backs who are all capable receivers.
“[Kittle’s] as physical as they get, he’s explosive," Flores said. "They’ve got a lot of other players, so you double him, you got to deal with Aiyuk, with Deebo and you got to deal with Bourne and the backs. You can’t double everybody, so you got to pick your spots.”
Kittle knows he is a focus for any opposing defense and thrives facing that challenge. He hinted that this week the plan will once again include him to carrying the rock.
“You can double me and you can hold me to a couple catches and some yards, and that is what it is but I’m still going to impact the game in the run game,” Kittle said on Thursday. “I’m excited to see each week how defenses game plan for us and how we game plan for them.
“Looking forward to this weekend too because I really like the game plan and I’m excited to run the ball a little bit.”
Not only do defenders have to cover Kittle, but once he has the ball in his hands, they have to tackle him. This is no easy feat. Kittle, Samuel and Aiyuk are all notorious for getting an inordinate amount of yards after catch, or YAC.
Kittle takes pride in not allowing himself to be tackled by a single player. Samuel has shared that his goal is to score a touchdown every time he has the ball in his hands. Aiyuk simply leaps over defenders.
“YAC is a mindset,” Kittle said. “It’s something that coach Shanahan and our coaching staff has been preaching every since I was a rookie. Catch the ball, drop, set, get vertical. There’s no point of dancing because everyone in the NFL is fast, and everyone is coming to knock the ball out.
“Get vertical as quickly as you can and you’ll be surprised at some of the angles people take to tackle you.”
Kittle and Co. have shaken off the disappointing loss of Week 4 and are ready to get things moving back in the right direction. There's no doubt that Shanahan is pleased to have his play-making tight end back on the field.