Wednesday, November 30, 2022

49ers George Kittle finally comments on its use in 2022

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To call the San Francisco 49ers a team with a wealth of offensive weapons would be an understatement. They have two top-notch wide receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, similarly prolific running backs in Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell, both of whom were starters last season, and arguably the game’s best full-back in Kyle Juszczyk, who was named at the Pro Bowl every season since 2016.

With so many mouths to feed and only so many snaps, it would be understandable if some games slip through the cracks, but one of the players shouldn’t be George Kittle, another multiple-time Pro Bowler who only got two goals in the Niners’ Week game 10 against the Los Angeles Chargers. When asked if he was frustrated with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Jennifer Lee Chan, Kittle offered a diplomatic response.

“Yes and no,” said Kittle. “Did I run into Kyle’s offense and say, ‘Give me the ball?’ No, I didn’t, but I keep telling Jimmy on the sidelines, ‘Hey, I’m open. I’m in one-to-one coverage. I am available. Just throw me the ball if you need me.’”

Unfortunately, Kittle is right, according to ESPN, Kittle was only targeted twice in the game against Los Angeles, catching just one of the two passes for a 21-yard gain. While Kittle wasn’t transparent for the rest of the game as he remains one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, it’s hard to understand how his goals slipped through the cracks.

“It happened last week,” Kittle said. “I’d like to have more than two goals, but it is what it is. We win the games, but I love the ball in my hands and like to ignite the offense.”

In the seven games Kittle has appeared in so far this season, the University of Iowa product has been targeted 41 times, or approximately 5.85 times per game.

While he’s certainly had games that surpass that mark, with a career-high in goals (17) being reached in the 49ers’ Dec. 15, 2019 game against the Atlanta Falcons, one has to go back to week 17 of the 2021 NFL season, in a 23-7 win over the Houston Texans on Jan. 2, 2022 to find a game where Kittle was only targeted twice in a single game. How many other games has Kittle earned two or fewer goals in one game? Just four times, once in the 2019 NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers on January 19, 2020 and three times during his rookie season in 2017.

Though Kittle’s goals per game are currently the second-lowest mark of his career, the Iowa product remains one of the 49ers’ best-managed blockers. That’s right, according to Pro Football Focus, Kittle ranks sixth among the 49ers in the rush blocking class behind only Trent Williams, Mike McGlinchey, McCaffrey, Jaylon Moore and Tyler Kroft and has the 10th-best grade out of 65 qualified tight ends.

Even if the Niners choose to spread the ball to fight their offense heavily, it’s clear that Kittle will continue to do the dirty work and still contribute to the team’s success on the field.

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