To George Kittle, it hasn’t made any difference who the 49ers quarterback has been the past two seasons. From Brian Hoyer to C.J. Beathard, Jimmy Garoppolo, Beathard (again) and Nick Mullens, the San Francisco tight end has been a playmaker.
And, in Sunday’s 20-14 victory over the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium, Kittle’s big plays and record performance led the 49ers to just their third victory of the season.
Kittle had seven catches for 210 yards – 85 coming on a second-quarter touchdown play – to help his team build a 20-0 lead by halftime that was enough to hold off the Broncos.
Kittle becomes the first 49ers tight end to ever have a 1,000-yard receiving season, finishing the game with 1,103 yards. His 210-yard receiving day also ranks as the eighth-best in franchise history (Jerry Rice has the record with 289 in 1995), and he was just four yards shy of the single-game NFL receiving mark by a tight end held by Shannon Sharpe.
The 49ers opened the game by driving 61 yards for a Robbie Gould 40-yard field goal, then added another Gould field goal of 29 yards later in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.
Then Mullens, off a play fake, connected with a wide-open Kittle on a crossing pattern that he caught in full stride and outran Broncos defenders for the 85-yard score. The half ended when Mullens completed a 1-yard pass to Dante Pettis for a touchdown and the 20-0 lead.
The Broncos were able to rally for two touchdowns in the second half, but the 49ers – leading by just six – put together a drive to run out the clock at the end of the game and secure the win.
Mullens completed 20-of-33 passes for 332 yards, two TDs and an interception. Jeffrey Wilson had a strong game in his first start at running back, carrying 23 times for 90 yards. Pettis, who’s been on a roll the last month, had three catches for 49 yards.
On defense, safety D.J. Reed was in on 12 tackles (three for loss) and had a sack.
The 49ers, now 3-10, will host the Seattle Seahawks this coming Sunday at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.