It will be hard for George Kittle to top what he did in 2018.
In just his second NFL season, the 49ers’ tight end caught 88 passes for 1,377 yards – an NFL record for yards at his position.
With a better cast of wide receivers this season, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo should have more targets to pick from. And, opposing defenses now know they have to commit resources to stopping Kittle.
Still, in the 49ers’ 2-0 start, Kittle is on his way to another productive year. He had eight catches for 54 yards in the season-opener against Tampa Bay and three catches for 54 yards against Cincinnati. The numbers in Game 1 could have been considerably better, but two touchdown catches by Kittle were called back because of penalties.
Against the Bnegals, one of those plays went for 36 yards, when he used his stiff arm to put away two would-be tacklers.
It was a typical play for Kittle, who led the NFL last season by averaging 10.2 yards after the catch. His combination of strength and speed for a tight end is terrific, so once he catches the ball in space he can be brilliant. Of his 54 receiving yards against the Bengals, 34 came after catching the ball.
For the second straight game, Kittle received the highest game grade on offense for the 49ers by the analytic website Pro Football Focus. And, he had an all-around excellent game, with effective run-blocking while also not allowing a quarterback pressure in six pass-blocking snaps, according to 49ers.com.
Kittle and the 49ers will go for their third straight victory Sunday when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.