The 49ers will go for their fifth win Sunday against the Rams in Los Angeles. They’ll try to go out on a high note on what has been a disappointing season, and a win over the NFC West champions would certainly leave the team with a positive feeling going into the offseason.
There’s also an individual record on the line, with 49ers tight end George Kittle having a chance to make a little history.
Kittle, the second-year tight end from Iowa, has 79 catches this season for 1,228 yards and four touchdowns. Already selected to his first Pro Bowl, Kittle needs 100 yards to break the single-season record for yards by a tight end set by the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski in 2011 (who also was in his second season).
Yet Kittle also has another man to beat, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce has 1,274 yards and needs just 54 yards to break Gronkowski’s mark.
It’s possible that both could break Gronkowski’s record Sunday. With Kelce playing a 10 a.m. game against the Raiders in Kansas City, Kittle will know where he stands when the 49ers and Rams kick off at 1:25 p.m.
“It’s a target,” Kittle told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch this week. “I definitely want to get it done. It’s not a lost cause if I don’t get it done, but it would be really fun for us.”
It will be up to quarterback Nick Mullens, in large part, to get the ball to Kittle.
“We’re aware of it, we know the situation,” Mullens said this week. “But at the same time, we’re trying to win the game. So if it happens, it happens and that’s awesome. Kittle has had one heck of a year and he deserves a ton of credit. … We’ll see how it shakes out.”
Kittle and Kelce have developed a long-distance friendship and admiration society this season. For Christmas, Kelce sent Kittle a signed, game-worn jersey with the inscription: “Keep ballin’ my guy. You are an absolute BEAST!! Don’t ever lose that personality and always enjoy life!! Stay healthy man. Much respect.” Kittle, meanwhile, has long been a fan of the one-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler.
Kelce and Kittle met briefly earlier this season when the teams played one another, a 38-27 Chiefs victory (in which Kittle had five catches for 79 yards and Kelce had eight for 114), noted Keiana Martin of 49ers.com.
Said Kittle of Kelce’s surprise Christmas gift: “It was pretty sick. He said he’s fully expecting (a jersey) in return. I’ll get him one at the Pro Bowl or I’ll send one if those guys get to the Super Bowl. I’m pretty pumped.”
The 4-11 49ers are 10-point underdogs to the 12-3 Rams.