George Kittle

Kittle aims to fulfill promise he made after Super Bowl 54 loss

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SANTA CLARA -- Tight end George Kittle and the 49ers have one shared goal every season: Win the Super Bowl.

They certainly have come close. San Francisco was 5:10 away from hoisting the franchise's sixth Lombardi Trophy almost four years ago against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and of course, we know what happened in those final five minutes.

In the waning moments of the 49ers' crushing Super Bowl defeat, Kittle stood on the sidelines and made a promise to himself.

"I will be back here. I will be back here and I will be back with a vengeance," Kittle told himself four years ago. "You will not get the best of me, no sir. "

The clip went viral and reappears on social media every season as the 49ers begin another playoff run.

In that moment, a defeated Kittle set a goal for himself. At some point in his career, he wanted to return to the Super Bowl and walk away a champion. Fast forward four years and that no longer is just a goal, but an expectation for Kittle and a star-studded 49ers team every season.

After enjoying a first-round playoff bye, Kittle and the 49ers are preparing to face off against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional playoff round on Saturday at Levi's Stadium. They sit just two wins away from returning to the biggest stage in professional sports and while the video's reappearance could serve as motivation to fulfill the promise he made to himself, Kittle doesn't see it that way.

"It doesn't really take a lot for me to get motivated," Kittle said on Wednesday when asked about the video. "I didn't understand the playoffs until 2019 when we went and didn't win. I've understood the sense of urgency, the hunger. That's sort of been set in stone for me since then.

"Do I use that as motivation every day? No. Do I see the video and do I kind of reignite something? I wouldn't say that, but it's definitely a memory of mine that I have and I still feel that way. I'm trying everything I can, I tried everything I could do for the last four years to do that again. Just looking forward to that opportunity."

The 49ers' roster is the most talented it's ever been under coach Kyle Shanahan and perhaps one of the best in franchise history. Anything less than a Super Bowl championship will be considered an abject failure.

Kittle and the 49ers know what's at stake, and feel a sense of urgency to finally re-plant the franchise's flag on the NFL mountaintop.

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