George Kittle happy with target share as long as 49ers are winning games

Oct 6, 2023, 9:30 AM | Updated: 10:06 am

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after a play during the second half in the game...

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of mouths to feed on offense, with four Pro Bowl talents on the line of scrimmage at one time. That includes George Kittle, most of the time. 

The 49ers’ uber-talented tight end has been rarely featured in their passing game so far this season, only accumulating 148 receiving yards in four games. His biggest game of 2023 came in Week 3, taking seven catches for 90 of those 148 yards. Every other game: Seven grabs for 58 yards.

Now coming off his fourth one-catch game since his rookie season, it would be natural to be a little frustrated with the uneven target share. But that’s not Kittle’s mindset, more so focused on what he can control, than what he can’t.

“The Niners are winning football games, I’m playing well in the run game and as long as I’m playing up to my standard, I can only control what I can control,” Kittle said Thursday. “We have six guys who when they touch the ball, you don’t know what’s going to happen. They can score touchdowns. They can break tackles.

“Sure, I love getting the football. I love running in space. If those aren’t the play calls being called, it is what it is. And I’m going to do everything I can to either get those guys open or block my ass off. And I’ve been doing that pretty well so far.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan has asked George Kittle to be a focal part of the run game since being drafted by the team in 2017. And while he takes pride in having monster games as a pass-catcher, he also relishes his dominance in the run game.

Frankly, whatever the 49ers ask of the Iowa alum, he’ll do, happy to play his role as the do-it-all TE in The Bay.

“That’s how I started my career is (in the) run game,” George Kittle explained. “And I’m always going to take as much pride in the run game as the pass game. Every single game I try to get guys on their back. And I’m going to out-effort you. And I’m not going to let guys beat me in the run game. That’s my goal every single day…I’m just going to continue, whatever they ask of me, I’m going to do it. If they want to throw me the ball 15 times, I’ll catch the ball 15 times. Throw it to me once. It is what it is.”

The players around Kittle also feel the same way about it, knowing his worth to the 49ers both on and off the field. 

“George has done a tremendous job in the run game (and) pass game, when the ball does come his way,” quarterback Brock Purdy said about his tight end. “Like the whole team says, and we say this all the time, we want to win. And we want to do whatever it takes.

“Everyone has their big games. It’s just sort of how the play calls go and things like that. But if it were up to me, I’d love to have all my guys, including George, go for 150 [yards] every game and four touchdowns.”

San Francisco now has Dallas on the slate, facing off with them on Sunday Night Football. The last time these two franchises met, Kittle had five catches for 95 yards in the playoffs. 

A regression to the mean is certainly in the cards for the versatile TE.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, October 8th vs. Dallas Cowboys – 5:20 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 15th @ Cleveland Browns – 10:00 AM PST
  • M0nday, October 23rd @ Minnesota Vikings – 5:15 PM PST
  • Sunday, October 29th vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:25 PM PST
  • Sunday, November 12th @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 10:00 AM PST

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