Kittle Nears 1,000 Yards, Key Player for 49ers

Kittle Nears 1,000 Yards, Key Player for 49ers

SANTA CLARA – Life as a third wheel has been good to George Kittle. Just nine yards shy of his third 1,000-yard season, the 30-year-old Kittle is as good as ever — which is saying something for someone who has more receptions (457) and receiving yards (6,245) than any other tight end in the. 49ers history. .

The 1,000-yard milestone should be surpassed sometime in the first quarter Sunday in the 49ers’ road game against the Washington Commander. As much as Kittle appreciates blocking, former coach Jon Embree taught him early on to appreciate the stat mark, which is rarefied air for a true tight end. “My goal every year is 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns,” Kittle said. “This is a goal I’ve set for myself since my sophomore year. My strict head coach made me do it. And I love that mindset to strive for. “Is that the most important thing? No, winning is.

But it’s a fun little box to check out and it looks great. If you have a thousand yards, it definitely means that you are helping the team in a good way. As a rookie, Kittle started seven games and caught 43 passes as Iowa’s fifth-round draft pick in the first draft class of coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

There was no way to know at the time that Kittle would be the cornerstone of the franchise’s rejuvenation. His value was evident in a breakout year in 2018, when he became one of the top picks in 49er history with 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns.

Kittle had 85 catches for 1,053 yards and five scores in the NFC championship season, but has not seen 1,000 yards since. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the primary target in the passing game, C.J. Along with the 243 goals of Beathard and Nick Mullens, Kittle has established himself as part of an excellent supporting cast. It only improved him and his team. Fast forward to 2023 and Kittle is just one of a quartet of Brock Purdy receiving picks.

Brandon Aiyuki has 65 carries for 1,203 yards and six touchdowns, running back Christian McCaffrey has 63,537 yards and seven scores, Kittle has 62,991 and six touchdowns and Deebo Samuel has 53,834 and six touchdowns. With Samuel 166 yards short of 1,000 yards, the 49ers could imagine having a thousand-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers.

Only twice in NFL history has a team had a 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers — the Atlanta Falcons in 1995 and the Indianapolis Colts in 2004. Neither team has had a tight end in the 1,000-yard club. “I don’t sit and look at my stats 24/7,” Kittle said. “But it’s cool when you have a lot of guys playing at a high level.

It’s hard to B.S. your way to a thousand yards. You have to go out there and put a lot of good stuff on tape, and the fact that we have three — one guy did it and me and Deebo are pretty close — led by Christian’s touchdowns and (almost ) 1,300 yards — means that we have a lot of guys who are involved at a high level.” With a style of play that suggests every snap is a complete command attack, Kittle missed 14 games from 2019-21, but has played in all 15 so far in 2023.

Despite playing at an explosive college, he wanted to play big. yards crime and that hasn’t changed. Kittle’s 58-yard catch and run on the 49ers’ first possession against Baltimore is 66 yards this season, and his 16.0 yards per reception is a career best. “I’ve got to get as many YAC (yards a catch) as I can,” Kittle said. – I have deep balls, some breaks and I can run a little bit. We have so many mouths to feed this offense. This is a big problem. When you have the ball, you want to do everything you can to run as far as you can.

Kittle’s blocking ability makes him an old school, modern day Mike Ditka or Dave Casper for his position. Shanahan sometimes baits Kittle or puts him in the backfield for mismatches, but for the most part he’s a disappearing breed as a tight end. Kittle has more blocking duties in a game than Travis Kelce does in a month, and he does it with aggression and enthusiasm.

Make no mistake, for as many stars as the 49ers have on their roster, Kittle is the closest to a heartbeat in implementing the work ethic and team culture that Shanahan and Lynch hope for. As much as Kittle’s personality revels in running the show, he’s a fundamental player.

While Kittle enjoys his touches, he is just as comfortable in the blocker and the game plan is hell, sometimes ending up with a big receiving day when it wasn’t necessarily in the game plan. Shanahan found that as long as Kittle is healthy enough to practice regularly, everything else will come naturally in terms of production. “The way George plays, the way we attack and the way things connect the run and the passing game means we don’t have to force it,” Shanahan said. “It’s only a matter of time.”

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