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George Kittle: 49ers not overlooking Rams despite recent dominance

Sep 14, 2023 at 5:45 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers are looking to win their ninth consecutive regular-season contest against the Los Angeles Rams, a streak that dates back to the 2019 season. The Niners beat their NFC West rivals by a combined score of 55-23 in the two games last season.

That second contest was Christian McCaffrey's first start with the 49ers. The running back had himself a day, rushing for a touchdown, catching a touchdown, and even throwing a touchdown to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, showing his new teammates and The Faithful that he can do it all.

"Threw a touchdown, caught a touchdown, ran for a touchdown. That's cool, isn't it? Yeah, he's pretty good at football," tight end George Kittle told reporters on Thursday when asked to reflect on the running back's impressive performance in that contest.

McCaffrey proved to be a valuable weapon for head coach Kyle Shanahan, who is also the play-caller for the 49ers. It was yet another weapon for an offensive group that already included Kittle, wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, and others.

The addition of the veteran running back opened things up for Shanahan. After beating the Rams, the 49ers didn't experience another loss until the NFC Championship game, 12 games later.

"Right when we got him, I was like, 'It's like Madden now for Kyle,'" Kittle said. "He can just make up whatever he wants to make up. Like, who do you want to take away? Like last week, they had [Steelers S] Minkah [Fitzpatrick] follow me around the field, and you left Deebo, Aiyuk, and Christian McCaffrey one-on-one with everybody else. Congratulations. How'd that go for you guys?

"Whenever a team wants to do that, when you have a running back that can pick up pressure, and then if you don't pressure, he gets to go out and run a choice route on the linebacker. There's not very many linebackers to cover a guy like Christian McCaffrey."

The Rams are a very different team than they were a year ago. They were forced to part ways with several talented players, which is why Los Angeles' 30-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks took a lot of people by surprise. Few saw that coming.

No one inside the 49ers locker room is looking past the Rams this week.

"They showed up, and their effort, every single point on defense [was great]," Kittle said. "I don't watch their offense. ... Their defense just had an energy to them. And Aaron Donald's still Aaron Donald. He's incredible, and you have to account for him on every single play. But while you might not notice every guy's name on their whole defense, they have effort, they have a really good coach, and they're going to try really hard.

"Hey, they won a Super Bowl a couple of years ago. They know exactly what they're going to get from us. It's going to be a good game, and it's going to be very gritty. And I know [people are saying], 'Hey, the Niners are going to go in there and dominate them.' I don't really read too many headlines, but that's probably what everyone's thinking. It's going to be a really good game because they put a lot of effort out there, and they have guys that really want to play.

"Some of their guys are second-string guys in the last couple of years that are getting an opportunity to start, and you can see why they're starters now, because they put a lot of good stuff on tape."

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