George Kittle loves one thing more than anything else in football, and the 49ers tight end achieved the feat twice Thursday night during his big game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.
“There’s nothing like being wide open in football, because it doesn’t happen very much,” Kittle told reporters after San Francisco’s 21-13 win that clinched the NFC West title.
Kittle scored two of the 49ers’ three touchdowns on the night thanks to some ingenuity on coach Kyle Shanahan’s part and a couple of perfect passes from rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. But Kittle’s separation from Seahawks defenders during the two plays might have been most impressive.
The 49ers’ first touchdown of the game featured what Shanahan referred to as the “Hollywood” play, and the first-quarter, 28-yard score could not have been executed more perfectly by everyone involved.
Kittle’s first thought when he heard the Hollywood play-call Thursday?
“Touchdown, every time,” Kittle said. “… Whenever Kyle dials something up that you know you’re going to get the ball, try to speak it into existence. So you’ve got to say, ‘touchdown,’ just visualize it.
“It was actually perfect.”
Purdy’s fake left, then fake right, forced all of Seattle’s backfield to vacate the middle, leaving Kittle — who was pretending to be just a blocker on the play — wide open for the touchdown.
Shanahan applauded Kittle’s Oscar-worthy performance after the game, and the coach noted one change the 49ers made from running the play against the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. Rather than Kittle faking a cut block on the front side, the tight end stayed up this hour.
“The play’s called ‘Hollywood’ because Kittle’s supposed to do a good acting job,” Shanahan said. “We’ve done it in the past where he falls down so they really forget about him. Sometimes, I think it’s too obvious when he falls down. …
“He did a good job acting without falling down on the ground, and we had the right look.”
On his second touchdown of the game in the third quarter, Kittle again was wide open and took a 54-yard pass from Purdy to the house.
And for the second time, his separation was incredible.
Kittle’s two-score game was the third of his career with two or more receiving touchdowns — two of which have come this season.
His big night also put him in the 49ers’ record books, marking the most games with two touchdowns of 25 or more yards in a season by a San Francisco player since wide receiver Terrell Owens had a pair in 2001.
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And there’s more.
Kittle’s 54-yard touchdown was the longest by an NFL tight end this season, too, and his 5,082 receiving yards this season make him the ninth 49ers player and third tight end in franchise history to register 5,000 or more receiving yards in his career.
The tight end truly is a special player with and without the ball in his hands, and per Next Gen Stats, his 714 yards after the catch over expected since 2018 trails just one other NFL player — his 49ers teammate Deebo Samuel (773).
Have a night — and a career — wide-open Kittle.
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