Throughout spring and summer workouts, George Kittle was impressive. To the 49ers, it was an indication the 6-foot-4, 247-pound tight end from Iowa had the makings of a difference-making tight end.
Now, fives games into the 2017 season, Kittle seems to be improving every week.
In Sunday’s 26-23 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis, Kittle caught seven of nine passes thrown his way for 83 yards and a key late touchdown that forced the game into overtime. Throughout this young season, the fifth-round pick has shown he’s a reliable and effective receiver, catching 17 of 23 passes thrown to him.
On Sunday, Kittle shined late in the game, catching four passes on the drive that ended with his touchdown. His 5-yard reception for a score was the first of his pro careeer.
“That last drive of the fourth quarter, he showed up big time for us,” head coach Kyle Shanahan told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.
Kittle had a 19-yard catch to keep the drive alive on a fourth-down play, then had his TD catch on a fourth-and-goal situation with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.
Kittle, like the rest of his teammates, was frustrated the 0-5 49ers couldn’t come away with their first win. But he’s excited to be playing an important role and he says games like Sunday’s make him even more confident.
“Yeah, it helps making catches, making plays,” he told the media. “It just helps everyone’s confidence. You want to make those plays every single week. Sometimes you have more opportunities than others, but I’m glad that I could do as much as I could for the team this week. I could have done more earlier in the game, so hopefully maybe next week that will change the outcome. We just got to get back into it.”
Said Shanahan: “We’ve got high expectations for Kittle. He’s been battling through some injuries. He’s done some good things in the run and pass games.”
The 49ers will travel to Washington this Sunday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. in the Bay Area.