George Kittle must be 49ers X-factor in Week 10 vs. Rams

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

7-2. ESPN. Monday, Nov. 15. 3-5. 51. 42. Rams -4. 8:15 p.m. ET

The 49ers face an uphill task against the Rams in Week 10, but George Kittle can help make a would-be Niners upset on Monday night a possibility.

The San Francisco 49ers deserve to be fully embarrassed by the way they conducted themselves in an ugly, uninspiring Week 9 defeat at home to the Arizona Cardinals, losing in ugly fashion 31-17 to a Cards offense led by backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

In that game, though, tight end George Kittle managed to be an X-factor, leading the Niners offense with 101 receiving yards while tacking on his first touchdown of the year after coming off a three-week injured-reserve absence due to a calf injury.

Yes, Kittle’s first-quarter fumble was awfully bad, leading to Arizona scoring an opening touchdown. But aside from that, it was “business as usual” for Kittle.

San Francisco will need even more than just “the usual” from Kittle in Week 10, though, with the 7-2 Los Angeles Rams coming to Levi’s Stadium in Week 10 for a prime-time Monday Night Football showdown.

Rams will be angry, and so should 49ers TE George Kittle

In some ways, it’s almost bad for the 49ers just how poorly the Rams played in their Week 9 at-home drubbing versus the Tennessee Titans, who pulled off the surprise 28-16 win at SoFI Stadium in a game where the score makes it sound closer than it was.

Officially now second in the NFC West behind the Cardinals, Los Angeles will be looking for an opponent to take out its frustrations, and the scuffling Niners present the perfect opportunity.

Kittle and the entire San Francisco roster should be mad, too, particularly with how flat they all performed in Week 9 on both sides of the ball. And if Kittle is truly the heartbeat of the 49ers, he’ll have to set the tone with the kind of on-field play fans have been accustomed to seeing for years now.

Maybe that’ll be one key X-factor in a would-be Niners home upset over their NFC West rivals on Monday.

49ers must involve George Kittle early and often vs. Rams

The Rams boast two of the NFL’s best cornerbacks in Darious Williams and the perennial Pro Bowler, Jalen Ramsey, meaning quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be hard-pressed getting the ball out to wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Los Angeles is allowing an average of just 5.9 pass yards per attempt anyway, good for sixth best entering Week 10, so it makes more than enough sense for Garoppolo to search out other options.

If there’s one notable vulnerability San Francisco can expose here through the air, however, it’s by involving tight ends like Kittle.

Read More: 3 reasons why George Kittle is off to a slow start in 2021

Through nine weeks, the Rams have surrendered a total of 548 receiving yards to tight ends. That ranks seventh highest in the league, and it’s a matchup Garoppolo and Kittle should look to exploit.

And as far as splits go, Kittle’s 39 receptions, 646 yards and four touchdowns against LA over seven career games mark the most he’s had against any opponent since entering the league back in 2017.

Safe to say, if there’s one 49ers player who needs to go off against Los Angeles in Week 10, it’s Kittle.

The Niners and Rams kick off on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. ET on Nov. 15 from Levi’s Stadium.

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