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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


49ers ride George Kittle, stout defense to 20-14 Week 14 win vs. Broncos

Dec 9, 2018 at 4:23 PM--


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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
DEN 0 0 7 7 14
SF 3 17 0 0 20

The San Francisco 49ers managed to pull off win No. 3 on the season, riding a historic effort by tight end George Kittle to upset the visiting Denver Broncos 20-14 at Levi's Stadium in Week 14.


Before Week 14 of the 2018 season, no San Francisco 49ers tight end ever reached 1,000 receiving yards on a season. Now-Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis came close with the Niners back in 2009, registering 965 in what was then a Pro Bowl year.

All that changed as the 49ers hosted the Denver Broncos, however, and second-year tight end George Kittle is now the new record holder for single-season receiving yards among all tight ends to don the red and gold. Kittle, who entered the game with 893 yards this season, needed just 73 to surpass Davis.

He did that and then some.

With the 49ers leading 3-0 at the end of the first half, Kittle hauled in a 52-yard pass from quarterback Nick Mullens, which finally put the tight end over the 73 yards needed after he recorded three earlier catches on the day.

That was impressive enough. But what was even more special was an 85-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Kittle in the second quarter that cemented the record beyond the 1,000-yard mark:


The last 49ers pass catcher of any kind to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season was wide receiver Anquan Boldin back in 2014.

Kittle finished the day with a whopping team-high 210 yards on seven catches and the touchdown. He was a prime reason the Niners were able to take a 20-0 lead over the visiting Broncos, who saw their slim playoff hopes take a major hit after falling to 6-7 with this loss. Wide receiver Dante Pettis' 1-yard touchdown just before halftime proved to be critical too, and the rookie's separation and route-running skills remain impressive:


Both Kittle and Pettis helped make Mullens' efforts better on the afternoon, although Pettis dropped a crucial third-down pass in the fourth quarter that would have allowed San Francisco to run the clock down much more easily. Regardless, Mullens completed 20 passes on 33 attempts for 332 yards, two touchdowns and the interception -- all for a passer rating of 102.1. His fourth-quarter interception cast a little bit of doubt, as the Niners surrendered a 1-yard touchdown to Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton later in the fourth quarter.

Overall, though, the Niners did a solid job containing Denver's rookie ball carrier, limiting him to 30 yards on 14 carries and an average of 2.1 yards per rush despite managing a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the second half.

Lindsay entered Week 14 ranked No. 1 among all NFL ball carriers, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

Despite the Broncos making some offensive noise in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were able to hold their opponents to 253 total yards, while forcing Denver to go 2-of-15 on third downs. Additionally, defensive tackle Ronald Blair and cornerback D.J. Reed recorded sacks on Broncos quarterback Case Keenum, who was held to just 165 yards passing and a rating of 73.7.

Pettis made up for his earlier drop by grabbing a key 31-yard reception on 3rd-and-7 with just under four minutes remaining in regulation and San Francisco clinging to a 20-14 lead.

Denver ran out of timeouts shortly thereafter, and the 49ers were able to run out the clock after the two-minute warning, climbing to 3-10 on the season and all but ending all seriousness the Broncos have about making the playoffs.


DEN Team Stats SF
22 First Downs 24
274 Total Yards 389
171 Pass Yards 305
103 Rush Yards 84
11 (62) Penalties (Yds) 11 (87)
0 Turnovers 1
6 (40) Punts (Avg) 5 (34)
29:19 Time of Pos. 30:41

Broncos Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
C. Keenum 24/42 186 1 0
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
R. Freeman 6 36 0 23
P. Lindsay 14 30 1 5
C. Keenum 4 24 0 16
T. Patrick 1 11 0 11
A. Janovich 1 3 0 3
C. Sutton 1 -1 0 -1
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
T. Patrick 7 85 0 21
D. Hamilton 7 47 1 18
P. Lindsay 4 21 0 9
C. Sutton 2 14 0 10
D. Booker 2 11 0 7
B. Parker 1 5 0 5
M. LaCosse 1 3 0 3
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
C. Keenum 1 0 2 0
B. Langley 1 0 0 0
C. McGovern 1 0 0 0
T. Patrick 1 0 0 0
S. Cravens 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
B. McManus 0/0 0 2/2 2
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
C. Wadman 6 47.8 2 55
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
B. Langley 3 14 0 18
D. Booker 1 22 0 22
R. Cracraft 1 0 0 0
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. Cracraft 3 6 0 20
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
T. Davis 5-3 0 0 0
D. Wolfe 5-1 0 0 0
J. Simmons 5-1 0 0 0
J. Jewell 3-2 0 0 0
D. Stewart 4-0 0 1 0
B. Roby 4-0 0 0 1
S. Harris 3-1 0 0 0
V. Miller 3-0 1 0 0
B. Chubb 2-1 2 0 0
D. Peko Sr. 2-1 0 0 0
A. Gotsis 2-1 0 0 0
S. Cravens 2-0 0 0 0
Z. Kerr 1-1 0 0 0
W. Parks 1-0 0 0 0
J. Taylor 1-0 0 0 1
D. Thomas 1-0 0 0 0
S. Ray 1-0 0 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
N. Mullens 20/33 332 2 1
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
J. Wilson 23 90 0 11
A. Morris 2 4 0 4
N. Mullens 5 -10 0 -1
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 7 210 1 85
D. Pettis 3 49 1 31
K. Bourne 2 22 0 12
K. Juszczyk 2 21 0 17
M. Goodwin 2 20 0 13
J. Wilson 1 6 0 6
T. Taylor 1 6 0 6
A. Morris 1 3 0 3
J. Staley 1 -5 0 -5
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
R. James 1 0 1 0
J. Wilson 1 0 0 0
M. Goodwin 1 0 0 0
K. Bourne 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 2/2 40 2/2 8
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
B. Pinion 5 42 1 47
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James 3 15 0 20
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
T. Taylor 2 13 0 18
R. James 1 0 0 0
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
D. Reed 10-2 1 0 1
M. Harris 5-2 0 0 0
R. Sherman 5-0 0 0 0
A. Armstead 3-1 0 0 0
E. Lee 3-1 0 0 0
F. Warner 3-1 0 0 0
D. Jones 2-2 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 1-3 0 0 0
R. Blair 3-0 1 0 0
D. Buckner 3-0 0 0 0
A. Exum 3-0 0 0 0
C. Marsh 2-0 0 0 0
P. Taumoepenu 1-0 0 0 0
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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