4 reasons why 49ers beat Bengals in key Week 14 bout

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
George Kittle, Jessie Bates, San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs past Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: George Kittle takes over 49ers offense through the air

Perhaps head coach Kyle Shanahan would love to take a page out of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s book and run the ball all but three times, as was the case in the Pats’ Week 13 win over the Buffalo Bills.

But that’s perhaps the exception, not the rule. San Francisco will still have to pass, and Jimmy Garoppolo will have to avoid those turnovers.

The Bengals play plenty of zone coverage on defense, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is frequently better against man formations, yet tight end George Kittle could wind up being a key X-factor for Garoppolo and the 49ers on Sunday anyway.

Kittle might have to by default, considering fellow wideout Deebo Samuel’s injury.

Cincy is going to be without one of its best coverage linebackers, Logan Wilson, who is out with a shoulder injury. And Cincinnati has struggled to defend intermediate zone routes by tight ends anyway this season, opening up the door for Kittle to take advantage of some of those zone concepts by attacking the seams.

Kittle is coming off a nine-catch, 181-yard, two-touchdown game against the Seahawks, and he might have to perform at a similar level in Week 14.

The good news is he’s more than capable of doing so, and the context allows for it.

Next. 49ers' 15 best first-round NFL Draft picks of all time. dark