SANTA CLARA — George Kittle likes things loud, boisterous and enthusiastic.
So it’s no surprise the 49ers tight end is looking forward to Thanksgiving night in Seattle, where the 49ers (7-3) visit the Seahawks (6-4) at one of the most deafening venues in the NFL.
“They absolutely hate us up there,” Kittle said following a 27-14 win over Tampa Bay Sunday. “What a great fan base to hate us. It’s going to be really fun.”
Kittle prides himself on being a dominating blocker but has been at his explosive best as a receiver of late. He has caught 31 passes for 432 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games, including eight receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
The previous week’s win over Jacksonville included a career-long 66-yard touchdown pass from Purdy that coach Kyle Shanahan described as “like a grenade out of a bunker.”
There may be no slowing Kittle’s roll in Seattle, given that he has 13 receptions for 274 yards and three touchdowns in his last two trips to the Great Northwest.
The former fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa is proving he is still an ascending player despite the wear and tear of seven seasons treating his body on Sundays like a jalopy in a demolition derby.
Quarterback Brock Purdy has been an equal-opportunity distributor — Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Christian McCaffrey are tied for the team lead with 43 receptions each — but has 12 touchdown passes to Kittle in his 18 games as a starter including the postseason.
Before Purdy arrived, Kittle had 24 touchdowns in 76 games — 17 of those thrown by Jimmy Garoppolo.
“I do enjoy the fact that Brock is throwing me the ball in the red zone,” Kittle said. “It’s fun.”
Fun is a theme with Kittle, and not just when he’s catching the ball. His love for blocking makes him valuable even if he’s not catching passes, and his positive vibes are contagious to his teammates.
As for the recent uptick in production as a receiver, Shanahan considers it an inevitability as long as Kittle is healthy enough to do damage.
Stay hot, @gkittle46!#TBvsSF on FOX
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— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) November 19, 2023
“The way George plays, and the way it ties into the run game and the pass game and with how good he is, it’s usually something we don’t have to force,” Shanahan said Monday. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Kittle credits the efficiency of the offense for his own production as a receiver.
“We have a lot of opportunities because of the way Brock takes care of the ball and the way he’s able to extend plays with his feet,” Kittle said. “When you’re on the field for eight-to-10 plays and you get down in the red zone and the defense is a little tired and they might mess up a coverage.”
Of course, Kittle is one of the biggest reasons the 49ers’ offense has remained on the field. Of his 43 receptions, …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment