SANTA CLARA -- The task seemed simple enough.
George Kittle needed just 5 yards to break the NFL record for single-game receiving by a tight end. And he had 30 minutes to get it done.
But after a seven-catch, 210-yard first half, Kittle was held without a reception in the second half of the 49ers’ 20-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
“The only people that were happy were probably Shannon Sharpe and my dad,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.
Sharpe owns the single-game record for a tight end with 214 receiving yards, and set that mark while with the Denver Broncos in 2002. His coach was Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father. In that particular game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 20, 2002, Sharpe caught one pass for 8 yards in overtime. The Broncos won 37-34.
So, Kittle does have the NFL record for most receiving yards from a tight end in regulation. But through two quarters, it appeared he would be no problem shattering Sharpe’s record.
So, what prevented the 49ers from getting the record for Kittle?
“First of all, I wish that we did, and I definitely could have just said, ‘Hey, my goal in this half is to get George the record,’ ” Kyle Shanahan said. “We had a number of plays called to him. One, we had a lookey call to him, and he got doubled, so you go to Dante (Pettis) on it. That was good.
“Fourth play of it, we had a play called, and they got under it in zone coverage, so we threw it away. After that, I think you have to think in a very humble way when you call games. You try to win the game, and you try to do what’s right.”
There even was a play call in which Shanahan said he wanted quarterback Nick Mullens to get the ball to Kittle on a shovel pass.
“It was covered,” Shanahan said. “If we would have forced it, then he would have lost 3 yards, and now he would have needed 8 yards instead of 5."
The 49ers ran 66 total plays in the game, but just 27 of them came in the second half, as the team had difficulty getting first downs and staying on the field.
“I thought it would happen naturally throughout the game,” Shanahan said.
“Every play mattered there at the end, so you’re just trying to call plays to try to win the game, not to break a record. That’s what you feel bad about. I wish he could have broken the record. He deserved to.”