What 49ers' George Kittle saw on huge catch-and-run that beat Saints


Much like Julius Campbell told Petey Jones in "Remember the Titans," George Kittle "loves him a little contact."

The 49ers tight end has become known for his ability to run through any and all would-be tacklers. Kittle's latest tackle-breaking earthquake came during the 49ers' Week 14 win over the Saints in New Orleans, when he caught a pass on fourth-and-2, broke a few tackles, dragged Saints safety Marcus Williams for a number of yards before being hauled down after a gain of 39 yards.

Williams only was able to get Kittle down via his facemask, so tack on an extra 14-yard penalty and Kittle's catch-and-run set the 49ers up for a chip shot game-winning field goal. 

Kittle knew the second he caught the pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo that he was about to steamroll the defenders,

“In the Saints game, I caught the ball, turn upfield. I run at the guy, and he slowed down instead of coming at me," Kittle told The Ringer's Kevin Clark. "So I knew he was just going to try to push me out of bounds and not be very physical at it. So you run at him and then just kinda run past him. He’s lucky he got my facemask.”


Kittle has been racking up highlight-reel plays over the past two seasons. The Iowa product had a record-setting 2018, and has been damn near impossible to tackle over the past two seasons, averaging 8.8 yards after catch per reception, via Pro Football Focus. That's 1.6 yards per play more than any other player.

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Kittle's bruising style of play personifies the type of team and culture 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have built down in Santa Clara. Led by a dominant front seven and a physical ground game, the 49ers are built on size and strength, aiming to bully their opponents into submission.

So far this season, their style has them at 11-3 and in position to grab the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC with wins against the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks to close out the season.

The 49ers have been a wrecking ball this season -- as Kittle is with the ball in his hands -- rolling over almost everyone in their path. Sometimes the only way to bring the 49ers or Kittle down is to do what Williams did: Grab hold and do your best to stick close until help arrives.

“He got lucky he held on,” Kittle told Clark of Williams. “’Cause I was going to throw him to the ground.”