While the mood may have seemed somber at Levi’s Stadium with the large deficit, there was one player whose hopes never wavered in the win: tight end George Kittle.
Repeatedly telling teammates about his “had us in the first half” joke, even during the first half itself, Kittle was able to share a laugh during the ceremony at the end of the game by letting it off his chest during his postgame speech.
George Kittle: "They had us in the first half, I'm not gonna lie." pic.twitter.com/4uYSvcY7MJ— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 29, 2024
One of the teammates he looked to lighten the mood with was quarterback Brock Purdy, who kept an unfazed look while Kittle shared his joke in the first half, looking ahead at the field.
While Purdy didn’t necessarily have a reaction, the quarterback acknowledged the value of Kittle’s “fun” demeanor postgame, which can be annoying at times, but also relieve some of the pressure of a game.
“Yeah. He keeps it fun, man,” Purdy said following the team’s 34-31 win over the Lions. “Like, he just has a good perspective on playing the game of football. Obviously, you have to be so detailed in what you do and every little play and moment is huge. We all get that. But George sort of brings us back to, ‘Hey, we’re playing a game, we can have fun with this.’”
“We have such a good team and you never know if we’re going to have a team like this again kind of thing. So, he is like, let’s enjoy every single snap that we have together, every drive, every game. And sometimes I’m a little annoyed, I’m like, come on dude, let’s get into it. But he brings me back down to having some fun with the game. So we all love it.”
The 49ers have a number of different personalities on their team, seen from their pregame walkout all the way to their on-field style of play.
Kittle, a veteran who vowed to return to the Super Bowl after the team’s loss four years ago, adds a different element to the team with his love for the game, lightening the mood and adding a layer of positivity during games.
Even when the 49ers seemed doomed against the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s NFC Championship after Brock Purdy went down, Kittle cheered on quarterback Josh Johnson as he entered the game as the aura around the team fell.
The 49ers will look to field off Kittle’s energy as they aim for a sixth Super Bowl ring in franchise history and the first in the Kyle Shanahan era after four trips to the NFC Championship Game over the past five years.