If the 49ers are going to beat the Bengals this Sunday, they’re going to need to feature George Kittle even more than they did last week against the Seahawks. In today’s Gold Standard Podcast, Levin Black and I explained how the path to victory for San Francisco goes through 85.
“The most exciting thing in the world for a 49ers fan is George Kittle getting a reception and getting two steps to get up to speed,” Levin said, “Once he’s up to speed with the ball in his hands, you’re on the edge of your seat. It’s like, ‘What’s going to happen? How many people is it going to take to tackle him?’ I feel like that is when I’m most excited. That’s when it’s like, ‘Uh-oh, what’s about to happen here?’”
Kittle’s 12 targets, nine catches, 181 yards, and two touchdowns represent a level of performance he has historically reached about once per season in his career. In 2020 he had a 15-catch, 183-yard, one touchdown performance against the Eagles. In 2019, it was 13 catches for 134 yards against the Falcons. The year before that, he actually did it twice: 9 catches for 149 and a TD against the Rams and 7 for 210 and a touchdown against Denver (amazingly, all in the first half).
There’s no reason those kinds of performances can’t happen more often. In fact, I sometimes wonder if they would happen more often if Kittle weren’t also such a dominant blocker. Sometimes the urge to use George to open holes for ball carriers is too much for Kyle Shanahan to resist.
He needs to start.
As great as Kittle is a blocker, that’s still the second-best thing he does on a football field. Going into a game where Deebo Samuel will likely not be close to 100% if he even plays, and you may be down to JaMycal Hasty at running back, it’s crucial for the 49ers to press their advantages where they have them. George Kittle as a true featured receiver is an advantage against every single team in the league.
Press until it hurts, Kyle.
You can hear today’s full Gold Standard podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else people get shows for their ear holes.
Other topics in today’s show
- What could be the one saving grace for San Francisco against Cincinnati’s receivers
- How Kyle Shanahan continues to say things that don’t make sense about Trey Lance
- Richard Hightower highlights the team’s accountability problem