George Kittle Taking Serious Heat For Goofing Off & Failing To Recover Christian McCaffrey’s Super Bowl Fumble

George Kittle
NFL Network

San Francisco 49ers fans absolutely love stud tight end George Kittle. Even non-49ers faithful can appreciate his blend of pass-catching, blocking, and quirky personality. That is, unless it’s the Super Bowl and that latter usually-amiable attribute gets in the way of making a critical play.

When 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey fumbled the ball away on San Francisco’s opening drive of Super Bowl LVIII, it was a painful twist. They’d already marched into Chiefs territory. Scoring right away could’ve set a totally different tone for how the Big Game played out. Adding insult to injury, from the looks of it, Kittle could’ve easily beaten Kansas City defensive end George Karlaftis to the loose ball had he not been busy taunting him:

Kittle says, “Hi George!” after soundly blocking him, only to watch Karlaftis slip past him and dive on the fumble to give the Chiefs possession. OOF…

Now you could say that Kittle was walling off Karlaftis, thought the play was over, couldn’t hear what he assumed was a blown whistle and let up for only a split second. Nevertheless, a lot of people are giving it to Kittle for not finishing the play to the absolute best of his ability.

Beyond this alleged Kittle blunder, it seemed like every little thing didn’t break the 49ers’ way. Not to discredit what Patrick Mahomes did, but Kyle Shanahan clearly didn’t have a firm grasp on the playoff overtime rules. taking the ball first in OT might’ve cost San Francisco the Super Bowl. Many would argue it definitely did.

Kittle had over 1,000 yards receiving in the regular season, yet managed only two catches for four yards on three targets in Super Bowl LVIII. You have to credit Chris Jones, L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, and the Chiefs’ fantastic defense for playing such sound football. You’d just hope for more from such a dynamic pass-catcher like Kittle if you’re the Niners. His skill set should’ve created more matchup problems for Kansas City. It’s a bit surprising Brock Purdy didn’t look Kittle’s way more often, and meanwhile, only connected with Deebo Samuel for three completions on 11 targets.

What a bummer for McCaffrey in the first place, though. He’d lost only four fumbles on 1,297 regular-season carries. Coughing it up like that sucks — even more so when one of your toughest teammates might’ve had a better shot to pounce on it if he was more locked in. CMC still had 160 total yards, with 80 rushing and receiving apiece. Can’t exactly blame him for the loss.

Since I like Kittle a good deal and want to give him the benefit of the doubt, here’s some fodder for that side of the fence, including a would-be catch that would’ve given his underwhelming numbers a significant boost.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock