Showman Kittle claims impressive circus catch was made for TV

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SANTA CLARA — George Kittle is an entertainer. 

In the 49ers' 19-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round, the All-Pro tight end had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Late in the third quarter, Kittle made a bobbling catch that set up the offense for its only touchdown of the game. 

After the game, Kittle shared that 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy’s intended targets on the play were wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. But that’s not how it always works out.

“I’m literally not even in the read,” Kittle said. “I saw, kind of, a space, and he hadn’t thrown it yet. So I was just going up the field, and he gave me a catchable ball, and I was just trying to be dramatic.” 

“It was just for TV. Trying to be a little dramatic. Trying to get the ratings up. That’s all we are here for.” 

The pass and catch netted 30 yards for the 49ers' offense, the second-longest play of the game. The top play of the game? That also was a Purdy pass to Kittle in the middle of the first quarter. But it wasn’t nearly as dramatic. 

As one of the intended targets, Juszczyk was close to Kittle when he made the juggling catch. The fullback was impressed by his teammate’s handwork, finally hauling in the ball for the catch.

“I had probably the best view of anyone on the field,” Juszczyk said. “I was probably 10 yards away from him, right there. It was incredible. Not surprised. He has a lot of incredible catches but that one was big. We needed that.”

Samuel, who also was an intended target, got a little anxious watching the play evolve. But after seeing Kittle historically make those kinds of catches, the wideout had confidence in his teammate.

“I ain’t going to lie, I was a little nervous,” Samuel said. “I was standing there right beside him and he’s bobbling the ball and I see [Dallas Cowboys] Trevon [Diggs]. And I’m like, ‘Please catch it. Just please catch it.’ And he can down with it. Luckily for them, the dude tackled him. If not he would have scored."

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Even Kittle’s defensive teammates were impressed by the circus-style reception. Nick Bosa was watching from the sidelines and knew how much the club needed a spark on the offense to take back the lead. 

“That was crazy,” Bosa said. “I was pretty confident he had it, then he bobbled it twice and I got a little nervous, but that was a huge play.”  

The drive ended in a two-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey that helped give the 49ers a lead they never would relinquish. 

 

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