Week 15 was an up-and-down day for San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle when he and the Niners squared off against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.

On one side, Kittle set another record at his position, posting the most receiving yards by a tight end over his first three seasons. Hall of Famer Mike Ditka held the previous record with 2,774 and Kittle has surpassed that mark with 2,777 and counting.

Kittle finished this game with 13 catches for 134 yards, but the 49ers ultimately lost to the Falcons 29-22 and watched their hold on the No. 1 seed in the conference slip away for now.

"I wish I could play right now," Kittle said when asked if he and the Niners could benefit from a short week after the loss and before Saturday's Week 16 matchup against the visiting Los Angeles Rams. "That's a sour taste I'd love to get out of my mouth right now.

"But we've got 24 hours. Flush it, and get back to work."

Kittle was one of the only reliable weapons quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had at his disposal during the game. At one point well beyond the third quarter, Emmanuel Sanders was the only wide receiver with a reception, and that one was for just five yards.

Yet Kittle had a key fumble in the fourth quarter, which could have had a direct impact on the course of the game. Facing a 3rd-and-4 at the Falcons 28-yard line, Kittle was in position to take a pass from Garoppolo and make it beyond the first-down marker. Considering the 49ers were up 19-17 and the two-minute warning had just passed, as well as the Falcons having just one timeout remaining, a first down would have been massively beneficial for San Francisco for all the obvious reasons.

Instead, Kittle fumbled. He recovered it and ran out of bounds, stopping the clock and keeping the Niners from converting a first down. They'd settle for a field goal to take a five-point lead, but the Falcons would get the ball back and would drive to retake the lead with mere seconds remaining in regulation.

"I just dropped it," Kittle said of the play. "I tried to switch hands with it so I could get a stiff-arm in, but it didn't work out well for me."

Kittle is correct, of course. But one has to consider plenty of other mistakes the team made over the course of the loss.
  • Peter Panacy
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    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.