San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is coming off of his first Pro Bowl season. The third-year player (then in his second year) cemented himself as one of the best at his position after setting a single-season NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end.

Kittle finished 2018 with 88 receptions for 1,377 yards with five touchdowns.

It was revealed in January that Kittle played through an injury for much of the 2018 season, which makes his accomplishment even more impressive. He suffered fractured rib cartilage during the 49ers' Week 9 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Levi's Stadium and wore rib protectors for the remainder of the season.

"That doesn't feel very good," Kittle said on Wednesday when asked about the injury. "I wore two rib protectors for the rest of the season. But it was fun, I guess. I don't know. It's just something you play with."

Kittle ended the game against the Raiders with four receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. Fans might remember his impressive one-handed catch-and-run after returning from the injury, which he sustained early in the first quarter.

"I fully expected that to hurt a lot worse than it did," Kittle said. "I thought the safety was going to smoke me. Luckily, he didn't. It was nice."

Kittle dealt with the injury the best he could, but there were instances during the second half of the season where some hits served as a harsh reminder of how hurt he was.

"The Giants game got me a couple of times," Kittle said. "Tampa got me a couple of times. Then after that, it was decently healed enough, so it didn't hurt that bad."


Kittle is used to playing through injury. His rookie campaign was riddled with them. Kittle suffered hamstring, calf, hip, chest, back, elbow, and ankle injuries in 2017.