INGLEWOOD -- Maybe for the first time in his NFL career, George Kittle became locker-room motivation for the opposing team.
Three days before the 49ers' 27-24 overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams, the All-Pro tight end described the physicality he expected from the NFC West matchup. The quote hit home with the Rams' defense, which dominated for much of the first half of Sunday's game at SoFi Stadium.
“Apparently I used a body-bag quote that they used in their locker room this entire week,” Kittle said after the game. “I was saying that for both sides of the ball. Like whoever it is, Rams or Niners, someone is leaving in a body bag.”
Here's the "body bag" quote that Kittle uttered Thursday:
“Whenever we play them, we just try to come out and be as physical as we possibly can, and that’s what we are really good at. I think we are one of the most physical offenses in football coming off the line of scrimmage with offensive line, fullback, tight ends and running backs.
“And when our wide receivers decide to go hit safeties in the mouth on a run play, that kind of changes the game. You either have to match that intensity or get out of the way. Sometimes, guys get out of the way. It’s definitely going to show up this Sunday about who is the more physical team, and it’s going to be kind of a body-bag game is my opinion.”
Kittle clearly expected a physical contest with the Rams, and he was correct.
The Rams' defense came out of the gate full charge Sunday, and stifled Kittle and the 49ers' offense, holding them to just three points in the first half. The tight end had just two catches for 2 yards, and it was starting to look like the 49ers would be the ones leaving Los Angeles worse for the wear.
“We go down 17-0,” Kittle said. “And I had five guys chirping at me in my ear, saying, ‘Hey, guys are putting you [in a] body bag, Kittle.’ I was like, ‘A lot of time up on that clock, boys.’ And hopefully I can see them again because that was a fun body-bag game.”
Kittle plays with incredible intensity, but he isn't known for starting controversy with an opponent. The Rams had a plan for the tight end, holding him to five catches for 10 yards, but that opened opportunities for his teammates, who were a bigger part of Jimmy Garoppolo’s 316 total passing yards.
Brandon Aiyuk notched his first 100-yard game of the season and third of his career. Deebo Samuel racked up 140 yards from scrimmage -- 85 receiving and 45 rushing -- and topped it with a touchdown pass. Jauan Jennings caught six of his seven targets for 94 yards, including the TD toss from Samuel.
So, maybe what Kittle said actually worked in the 49ers' favor -- at least this week.