49ers’ Brock Purdy Sends Message to George Kittle Amid Career Lows

George Kittle, 49ers tight end

Getty George Kittle, 49ers tight end

It’s likely that this is the best team 49ers tight end George Kittle has played for in his seven NFL seasons. But it is also likely this will be his least-productive year, at least statistically, a fact that quarterback Brock Purdy addressed in his meeting with reporters this week.

And Purdy’s message to Kittle: There’s still plenty of time.

“We still have a whole basically second half of the season coming up where it’s like, man, George can definitely get involved. He can get involved at any point in the game. So, that’s just sort of how it’s gone,” Purdy said via 49ers Web Zone.

Kittle had one reception for one yard in Week 6’s loss to the Browns, and that marked the second time in three games he had just one catch. He has not had two one-catch games during any season of his career dating back to his rookie season.

Purdy said that’s hardly intentional.

“It’s not like we go into the game going, ‘George, you’re not going to get the ball, it’s going to be this, this, and this guy,’ it’s just how it’s gone, you know?” Purdy said. “But obviously, he’s a threat. Everyone does like to scheme him up and try to stop George as best as possible, but it’s how it’s been.”

Just 18 Completions for 49ers’ Brock Purdy & George Kittle

Kittle has been targeted 25 times this season, and has 18 catches. He has 216 yards on the year, and three touchdowns, all of which came in the rout of Dallas in Week 5. He is on pace for 612 yards receiving this year and 51 receptions, which would both mark low points since his rookie year, not counting the eight-game season he played in 2020 because of injuries.

Kittle says he understands that he has not always been part of the game plan. On a team with a star running back like Christian McCaffrey and two stars receivers—Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel—someone has to sacrifice. So far, it’s mostly been Kittle, who has been asked to do more blocking this season.

He’s been excellent at it, too, it should be noted. Pro Football Focus has Kittle graded at 80.6 blocking for the run and 80.5 blocking for the pass. That’s third in the NFL, and overall, PFF still has Kittle rated as the league’s third-best tight end, even with his reduced numbers. His blocking is that good.

Blocking Is in the Kittle Game Plan

George Kittle pointed out that, given the 49ers’ game plans, Brock Purdy owes him no explanations. After the 49ers allowed five sacks to T.J. Watt and the Steelers in Week 1, the team needed to adjust its protection. It has allowed six total sacks since. That’s what it will take for the 49ers to win, and Kittle said that is where his focus is.

“Game plan,” Kittle said after practice on Thursday. “We’ve gone against a lot of really good defensive lines, and we’re trying to do our best to not let something happen, like T.J. Watt getting three sacks against us. And if my catches diminish to help the team win, I don’t really care.

“My goal is to win Super Bowl. Accolades and all that stuff come after that. It is what it is, and I’m going to be out there, I’m going to be chipping, I’m going to be blocking, I’m going to be catching the ball, scoring touchdowns. Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to do it.

“Would I prefer to have five targets over one target? Sure. Any tight end would. But if that’s not in the game plan, it’s not in the game plan, and it’s all right.”

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