49ers tight end George Kittle's one-handed catch came with eyes closed


SANTA CLARA -- Nick Mullens didn't do it alone Thursday night for the 49ers.

Tight end George Kittle helped his quarterback's impressive stat line with a remarkable one-handed catch amid four Raiders defenders that he turned into a 71-yard gain on the second play of the second half.

It was an amazing sight, all right. But the catch was something that neither Mullens nor Kittle witnessed when it happened.

“I closed my eyes, 100 percent,” Kittle said following the 49ers’ 34-3 win over the Raiders at Levi’s Stadium.

And just to make sure his comment wasn't interpreted as an act of modesty, Kittle confirmed that he didn't exactly follow Mullens’ pass into his outstretched left hand.

“Yep,” Kittle said. “I just kind of stuck an arm out there, and it fell in my hand.”

Kittle lined up on the left side of the 49ers’ formation. He made a move to the outside against Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead before angling back to the middle of the field.

Four Raiders defenders formed a diamond around Kittle as he reached out and made the catch in traffic. After pulling the ball into his body, Kittle somehow split Raiders linebacker Emmanuel Lemur and safety Erik Harris to break into the open.

“I looked up at the screen and I think it was 21 (cornerback Gareon Conley) following me and I was like, ‘He’s faster than me, so I just have to protect the ball,’ ” Kittle said.

Kittle was tackled at the Oakland 5-yard line. A short time later, Mullens found Kittle again for a 5-yard touchdown pass.

“Coach (Kyle) Shanahan rewarded me like two plays later, so that’s pretty fun,” Kittle said.

Kittle, who had an 82-yard touchdown reception against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, is the first NFL tight end to have two receptions of 70 yards or more in the same season since Rich Caster of the New York Jets did it in 1972.

The second-year pro from Iowa caught each of his four targets against the Raiders for 108 yards. He leads the 49ers with 41 receptions for 692 yards on the season.

Afterward in the victorious 49ers locker room, Shanahan stopped by Mullens’ locker. Mullens said they spoke about Kittle’s reception.

“I just tried to leave it a little inside for him,” Mullens said. “I still haven’t seen his catch, but they said it was sick.”

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