49ers ride 2 George Kittle TDs to down Seahawks on Thursday

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

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It’s been a while since George Kittle had a big game, but the 49ers ensured he did to beat the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football and win the NFC West.

For much of the 2022 season, San Francisco 49ers All-Pro tight end George Kittle has been something of a forgotten commodity.

At least in terms of the stat sheet, particularly with Kittle winding up being the fourth option for a stacked Niners offense behind other weapons like running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

Yet Kittle is still very much capable of exploding at any moment. And with San Francisco traveling to the Pacific Northwest on a short week to play the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football in a game that could determine the NFC West, it was Kittle who ended up taking things over.

It’s a good thing, too, as quarterback Brock Purdy was banged up with rib and oblique injuries suffered in the dominant Week 14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just days before.

Purdy, despite the injuries, played well enough to answer questions about backing up his first NFL start ever the previous week, and the 49ers pulled off the 21-13 victory on Thursday night to improve to 10-4 while also clinching the NFC West and a first-round home game at the very least.

But having Kittle and McCaffrey help out a lot sure helped matters, too.

49ers let George Kittle take over Thursday night with 2 touchdown catches

Tight ends can be a young quarterback’s best friend. Yet that wasn’t quite the case during Purdy’s first start.

On the road at Lumen Field in Seattle, though, Kittle did his best to ensure Purdy had some success, hauling in the rookie’s first touchdown pass of the night on a beautiful double-fake play that left the tight end completely uncovered up the middle for what turned into a 28-yard touchdown:

Kittle would finish the night with four catches for 93 yards after not hitting even 30 yards receiving in each of the previous three weeks.

His second touchdown of the night, capitalizing on a blown coverage by the Seahawks, was almost too easy:

It was also the longest touchdown by a tight end this season, according to the Amazon Prime streaming broadcast.

Meanwhile, Purdy outshined Hawks quarterback Geno Smith by a good margin, too, although the win might not have been as memorable as beating future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and the Bucs last week. The rookie also watched McCaffrey rush 26 times for 108 yards and a touchdown while adding 30 yards on six catches, too, and that took plenty of pressure off Purdy.

Regardless, his line was 17-of-26 passing for 217 yards, two touchdowns against zero interceptions for a passer rating of 117.0.

And for those counting quarterback wins, the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft is a perfect 2-0.

Defense displays another masterclass vs. Seahawks as 49ers clinch NFC West

The Hawks finally managed to score offensive touchdowns against the Niners this year after managing only special teams points back when these two NFC West rivals met in Week 2.

Still, Seattle mustered only 277 total yards and averaged only 4.5 yards per play while netting just a 4-of-13 mark on third downs.

Coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ defense can travel despite the short week, and it was a unit that was swarming all night, generating plays like the forced fumble by linebacker Dre Greenlaw that was recovered by cornerback Charvarius Ward and nearly returned for a touchdown.

McCaffrey capitalized on that turnover, however.

Read More: Beating Seahawks puts 49ers in position for No. 2 seed in NFC playoff picture

In total, San Francisco won the turnover differential 1-to-0, and that was going to be the ticket for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad clinching the NFC West for the first time since 2019, ironically that game coming against the Seahawks, too.

With the victory, the 49ers have now gone a perfect 5-0 within the division en route to wrapping it up, but now the thinking will be for the Niners to climb as high in the NFC playoff picture as possible. Currently, San Francisco is the No. 3 seed.

Based on the way the 49ers played Thursday night, though, getting higher in the seeding is certainly in play.

Next. Top 10 moments in 49ers-Seahawks rivalry. dark