Current San Francisco 49er and former Iowa Hawkeye tight end George Kittle now holds the season receiving yards record by a tight end in 49er history. The 2017 fifth-round pick entered Sunday’s matchup against the Denver Broncos just 73 yards shy of breaking Vernon Davis’ record for receiving yards (965 in 2009) by a tight end in a season.
“That’s a good question because we didn’t know either,” San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said on why Kittle fell to the fifth-round. “We thought he was going to go somewhere in the third or something like that, was our guess. One thing that, to me, looks like first-round talent, but we had a feeling he was going to fall just in the fact that he didn’t do a lot in the passing game.”
“All we hear about is people talking about him as a run blocker and things like that which is one of the reasons we really liked him. But, the main reason was the pass game. He didn’t get to show that a ton which helped him, we thought, not get noticed in the first couple of rounds. But, we were very surprised he fell to the fifth.”
It was expected that he would catch Davis’ record, but nobody expected Kittle to put up an all-time great performance in the first half. Kittle recorded seven catches for 210 yards including an 85-yard touchdown reception. The all-time single-game receiving record for a tight end is 214, which was set by former Bronco Shannon Sharpe. He has four touchdowns on the season and three of them have been 70 yards or longer.
The 210 yards he recorded in the first half are almost one-fourth of the total yards he gained while donning the black and gold (737). He recorded 290 yards during his junior year alone. His210 receiving yards in the first half were the most by any player on any team in any first half since 1991.
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Kittle is the first 1,000-yard receiver for the 49ers since wide receiver Anquan Bolden achieved the feat back in 2014. The 49ers don’t have a lot of talent around them, but Kittle has been a bright light for the future of the franchise. He’s played with three different quarterbacks ( Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J Beathard, Nick Mullins) and hasn’t dropped in his productivity.
This won’t be the only record that he has a shot at breaking for the 49ers. With the seven receptions in the first half, Kittle is only 13 receptions short of breaking the franchise record for receptions by a tight end at 82, which was set by Eric Johnson in 2004.
It’s only his second year in the NFL, but it’s clear that he could have the best season in 49er history for a tight end. This game might also cement himself as one of the most best tight ends in the NFL, or maybe even best in the NFL. He’ll be in the conversation for for team MVP this season and seems destined for a Pro Bowl selection as well.