And just like that it’s over.
The San Francisco 49ers ended their 4-12 2018 season with a 48-32 loss to the Los Angeles Rams but with a George Kittle bright spot.
The second year tight end set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season with 1377, surpassing New England’s Rob Gronkowski’s 2011 record and the Kanas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce’s 2018 record. In fact, Kittle surpassed Kelce shortly after Kelce set it, and he did so in spectacular fashion with a 43 yard touchdown.
“I told him as soon as he gets it, we’re done,” Shanahan said. “So it was pretty cool that he turned it into a touchdown…but that’s what he’s been doing all year. He’s done a helluva job.”
For the man himself, the significance of the day hasn’t quite set in yet.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” said Kittle. “But it’s definitely exciting. It definitely wasn’t just me. You had three quarterbacks throw me the ball…We definitely would have really enjoyed a win today, but this makes it a little bit better.”
When the 49ers played the Denver Broncos on December 9, Kittle had 210 yards in the first half and needed five to set a single game record, but it didn’t happen. Head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted that he was determined to make up for it today.
“I definitely did,” Shanahan said. “He’s let me know about it. So has his mom. And dad. So we tried to make it up to him.”
The San Francisco defense had a hand in making the record happen by making sure the Niners got the ball back with enough time to give the tight end a chance.
“He deserved it, man,” said cornerback Richard Sherman. “He’s such a hardworking player. The last play was like a microcosm of who he is as a player and a person. It’s a five yard gain for the record, and he takes it, whatever it was, 40 yards and scores a touchdown.”
Nick Mullens, who is one of the aforementioned quarterbacks who has been throwing Kittle the ball, could not have been happier for his teammate.
“The things that he’s been able to do for himself, for the team, for the organization in the short two years he’s been here are incredible,” Mullens said. “I think he has a big impact off the field as much as he does on the field…He deserves every bit of credit that he gets.”
Kittle held tight to his jersey. It’s his. He’d like to keep it.
“That one’s mine,” Kittle said. “I actually, I hid that so no one could take it at all. I don’t want that Tom Brady thing happening where he got his jersey stolen.” Totally fair.
- The 49ers committed four turnovers today, meaning they finish the season -25 on takeaways and giveaways. That is worst in the NFL and tied for 10th worst ever. They’re going to want to work on that for next season.
- Laken Tomlinson left the game with a knee injury. The 49ers don’t know the severity yet.
- Running back Alfred Morris, who can in when Jeff Wilson, Jr. left with a knee injury, finished the day with 16 carries for 111 yards – including a 51 yard run – and a touchdown.
The 49ers have a lot of work ahead of them for 2019. Free agency starts in a couple months and the NFL Draft after that. Go Niners!