Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports



San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle had a breakout game on Sunday in a losing effort against the Indianapolis Colts. Kittle's 83 yards receiving in Indianapolis matched his combined total through the previous four games. His seven receptions were the most of his young NFL career and he was able to find the end zone for the first time.

One 49ers great took notice of Kittle's performance on Sunday. Former tight end Brent Jones joined KNBR on Monday to help break down the team's overtime loss to the Colts and became very passionate while discussing the rookie tight end.

"I've never met George but I felt like a proud papa yesterday," Jones said, "because, at halftime, I literally said to myself, 'I know that they're bracketing [Pierre] Garçon after what he did and Marquise [Goodwin] made some big plays down the field yesterday and that confidence that he's gaining by that, we're going to get better and better every week.' Literally was saying to myself and I yelled at the TV a few times, 'We've got to get the tight end involved! We've got to get Kittle some confidence!'

"One or two balls a game, and if he drops one or something gets batted away, you don't build confidence on that. I think he's a little under the radar. He's a little shifty and he can get open. Man, when he was catching those balls, I was just fired up. And when he got in for the touchdown, like I said, I've never met him but I'm rooting for the kid. I mean, he's a rookie and the expectations are off the charts to be kind of, 'Yeah, you're a rookie and we got rid of everybody else and you're starting,' but I think this is going to be the start of something great at that position.

"I want to keep him healthy but we've got to utilize him. It's so important and it's so important for Brian Hoyer to develop that because using your tight end is going to keep that defense honest."

You can listen to the entire interview with Jones below.


Kittle, who was a fifth-round pick, was the second of two rookies selected out of Iowa in April's draft. The other was quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was selected in the third round. Kittle has appeared in all five of the 49ers' games this season, starting three, and catching 17 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.

Kittle was targeted nine times on Sunday and caught all seven of his catchable passes, according to Pro Football Focus. His drop rate for the season ranks fifth among tight ends with the rookie hauling in 17 of his 19 catchable passes.

Jones mentioned building confidence and Sunday's performance may have done just that for the rookie tight end.

"Yeah, it helps making catches, making plays," Kittle told reporters after the game. "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."