Second-year tight end George Kittle became the San Francisco 49ers’ best single-season tight end in franchise history in Week 14, and was honored to pass Vernon Davis, who set the previous team record back in 2009.
Entering the game, Kittle needed just 73 yards to pass former Niners tight end Vernon Davis for the record for the most single-season receiving yards by a tight end in franchise history. Davis set the record back in 2009 with 965.
After putting up 210 yards on seven catches plus a touchdowns, Kittle did that and then some. What’s even more impressive was how all those numbers came in the first half.
Kittle surpassed Davis on his fourth catch of the game, ripping off a 52-yard game to move into No. 1 on the 49ers’ list of tight ends with the most receiving yards in a single season. Later, at the 10:00 mark of the second quarter, Kittle ripped off an 85-yard touchdown to go past 1,000 receiving yards on the season, becoming the first Niners pass catcher of any kind to reach this mark since wide receiver Anquan Boldin back in 2014.
And the first San Francisco tight end to do it ever.
“It’s an honor,” Kittle told reporters after the game. “The fact Vernon Davis was one heck of a tight end that played here for 11 years. He set a standard and his name is on the wall outside our tight end room. I see it every day. So, the fact that I can see that and shoot for his records, it’s definitely fun. It’s awesome to get those opportunities from coach [Kyle] Shanahan to allow me to do that.”
Interestingly enough, Kittle nearly set another record in the game. Back in 2002, then-Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe recorded 214 receiving yards in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs. That stands as the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end in any game.
Kittle also revealed he found out about the record midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, he was held off the stat sheet after halftime and missed setting a new record by a mere five yards.
“Next time,” Kittle joked about the possibility of breaking Sharpe’s record.
Shanahan apparently apologized to Kittle multiple times after the game, according to Kittle’s presser. So did quarterback Nick Mullens, who passed for 332 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on the afternoon.
“George had one heck of a day, four yards short of the record,” Mullens told reporters after the game. “You can blame that on me, I guess.”
Regardless, Kittle’s historic season has been one of a handful of bright spots amid an otherwise painful year for the 49ers. Through 14 weeks, and with three more weeks to go, Kittle now has 1,103 receiving yards, which puts him second behind the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce for most by a tight end this season.