Travis Kelce

49ers' George Kittle breaks NFL season record for receiving yards by tight end

49ers' George Kittle breaks NFL season record for receiving yards by tight end

LOS ANGELES -- George Kittle broke the NFL single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in his final game -- and on his final catch -- of the year.

Needing just 2 more yards to set the mark Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers star caught Nick Mullens' short pass and took it 43 yards for a touchdown with 2:20 to play.

Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end who sent Kittle a signed jersey this past week as the two chased history, held the record for just a few moments Sunday. He caught five passes for 62 yards in a rout of the Oakland Raiders, giving him 1,336 yards on the season. New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski’s league record of 1,327 yards had stood from 2011.

Kittle countered with nine catches for 149 yards, though, finishing with 1,377 on the season to snatch away the record.

Kittle also broke Eric Johnson’s 49ers single-season record for the most receptions by a tight end. Johnson caught 82 of his 117 targets for 825 yards and two touchdowns in his record-setting 2004 season. Kittle finished the day with nine receptions, giving him 88 on 136 targets on the season.

The second-year pro fell just 5 yards shy of breaking Shannon Sharpe's NFL single-game record for receiving yards by a tight end three weeks ago. Kittle caught seven passes for 210 yards in the first half against the Denver Broncos, but he didn't have a reception in the second half, causing 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan to apologize for the oversight.

There wasn't an oversight this time, though, as Shanahan went right to Kittle with little time left, first with a 6-yard pass to the right, then the record-setting throw in the 49ers' 48-32 season-ending loss.

Team management was waiting for Kittle in the tunnel with congratulations.

For Kittle, it's now on to the Pro Bowl, then preparations for the 49ers' 2019 season.

George Kittle receives gift from Travis Kelce as both chase history

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GEORGE KITTLE'S INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

George Kittle receives gift from Travis Kelce as both chase history

SANTA CLARA — 49ers tight end George Kittle continues to get the attention of football fans and peers around the NFL as he puts together a historic season.

One player who has taken note of Kittle’s record-setting season is none other than fellow star tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs. 



Kittle currently has 1,228 receiving yards, just 101 behind the all-time NFL mark for a tight end of 1,327, set by the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski in 2011.

Both Kittle and Kelce (currently at 1,247 yards) have a chance to break the record in Week 17.

With such a close competition between thetight ends, there has been more than just an acknowledgement between the two. First, Kelce threw Kittle a Twitter follow in early November, and Kittle thought that was “pretty cool.”

Getting the follow back after three years was great, but Kelce had more in store for Kittle: a personalized signed jersey.

The jersey reads: "Keep ballin’ my guy, you are an absolute beast! Don’t ever lose that personality and enjoy life!! Stay healthy man. Much respect!” 

Kelce's jersey is game-worn, from the Chiefs' Week 15 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. 

What is yet to be seen is if the 49ers' game plan against the Rams in Week 17 will help Kittle reach the record. Kittle jokingly said of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, “I hope it’s on his mind.” 

You wouldn't blame Kittle for throwing a playful jab at his coach after what happened in Week 14.

After 210 yards in the first half Dec. 9 against the Denver Broncos, Kittle fell 5 yards short of breaking Shannon Sharpe’s single-game record for a tight end. After Kittle was shut down in the second half, Shanahan apologized after the game for not getting him the single-game record.

49ers quarterback Nick Mullens said the team is more aware of the potential record on the line than it was in Week 14. 

“We know the situation, but at the same time, we’re trying to win the game," Mullens said. "So if it happens, it happens, and that’s awesome. Kittle has had one heck of a year, and he deserves a ton of credit. So we’ll see how it shakes out.”

49ers' George Kittle can break NFL season record for tight end receiving yards

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USATSI

49ers' George Kittle can break NFL season record for tight end receiving yards

George Kittle is on pace for a record-setting Sunday in Week 17, but he isn't the only NFL tight end in that position. 

Kittle, who leads the 49ers with 1,228 receiving yards this season, needs 100 on Sunday to break New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's single-season record of 1,327 yards. Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, meanwhile, only needs 54.

“It’s a target,” Kittle said Wednesday (via SFGate). “I definitely want to get it done. It’s not a lost cause if I don’t get it done, but it would be really fun for us.”

[RELATED: 49ers' Antone Exum awaits ruling on hit, hopes he didn't play for free]

The 25-year-old is in the middle of one of the best seasons from a 49ers tight end in franchise history. With one game to go, he is already 263 yards clear of Vernon Davis' previous franchise record. Kittle needs only four receptions on Sunday to surpass Eric Johnson's single-season record (82), and seven more targets to surpass Davis' record (128).

Since Nick Mullens took over at quarterback in Week 9, Kittle is averaging six receptions -- on 9.3 targets -- for 92 yards per game. In other words, the NFL record for yards and the 49ers' record for catches from a tight end are well within Kittle's normal range. But, the QB said that doesn't mean the 49ers are going to force Kittle the ball.  

“We’re aware of it — we know the situation,” Mullens said. “But at the same time, we’re trying to win the game. So if it happens, it happens and that’s awesome. Kittle has had one heck of a year and he deserves a ton of credit. … We’ll see how it shakes out.”

[RELATED: Nick Mullens smartly leaning on 49ers vets Joe Staley, Richard Sherman]

Also working in Kittle's favor is his opponent's defense. The Los Angeles Rams have allowed the 10th-most yards by tight ends this season (920), and the third-most targets. Those 116 targets have only translated into 70 receptions, however. 

What isn't helping Kittle's pursuit of the record is Kelce and the Chiefs' matchup. The Raiders have allowed the fourth-most yards (998) to tight ends. 

Kittle will need some luck on his side to break Gronk's record and surpass Kelce, but neither notion is out of the question.