How George Kittle’s incredible catch marked the 49ers’ rally, ultimately led to victory

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. – George Kittle still has talent for acting.

Engaged in a blood-curdling battle with the Dallas Cowboys with the score tied midway through the third quarter, star tight end for the San Francisco 49ers spawned one of those acrobatic plays he has a knack for. do when games are played.

On first-and-ten from the San Francisco 21-yard line, rookie quarterback Brock Purdy rolled to the left. But with his first two options covered, Purdy swept center field (an NFL no-no) and found a serial Kittle being chased by Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.

Purdy seemed to lead him too much, but Kittle held out an outstretched paw. He kicked the ball towards him and it bounced off his facemask. Kittle then managed to track the ball for a 30-yard gain, ducking before being crushed by cornerback Trevon Diggs.

Kittle was the last to read in the progression, but looked for space as Purdy searched for another option.

‘Everyone did their part’ – Brock Purdy and George Kittle speak with Erin Andrews after advancing to the NFC Championship

Erin Andrews spoke with George Kittle and Brock Purdy after the San Francisco 49ers’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL playoffs.

“I was just trying to be dramatic,” said a deadpan Kittle afterwards. “It was just for television. I was trying to increase the ratings.”

Purdy had a different opinion.

“It felt like 10 seconds skipped, and I was like ‘Man, come on man,'” Purdy said with a smile. “But he fell with it.”

The play led to a brawl in San Francisco. Seven plays later, Kittle celebrated on the field by earning a defensive holding penalty off Dallas safety Donovan Wilson.

Three plays later, running back Christian McCaffrey finished practice with a two-yard run for a score, throwing the ball over his head in celebration as San Francisco took a lead they would never relinquish. .

And there was Kittle, who stalked the ball like a punt, swung for the right grip, then passed the ball to the greatest of all time – Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, who watched from the stands.

“Why not?” Kittle said of his touchdown celebration. “Then I saw Jerry and I said, ‘Jerry Rice is getting football.'”

That touchdown helped the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship Game the following week (This Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

Kittle led offense to offense and finished with a team-best five catches for 95 yards. He remains Purdy’s security blanket. Since Mr. Irrelevant took over as quarterback, Kittle has a team-leading 31 receptions for 447 receiving yards and seven scores.

Speaking of the Iowa State product, he’s improved to 7-0 as a starter since taking over from an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13. And he joined Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez when he was the only rookie quarterback to earned two playoff starts.

Purdy completed 19 of 29 passes for 214 yards. While Purdy didn’t post great numbers, he didn’t return the ball either. It’s a recurring theme.

“In playoff football — or any game for that matter — you can’t kick the ball (far) or fumble, anything like that,” Purdy said. “When there is so much at stake and everyone is playing their best football, every training session and every moment counts.”

With the win, the 49ers qualified for their third NFC championship in the past four years under head coach Kyle Shanahan. San Francisco relied on their defense in this one, holding Dak Prescott and a talented Dallas offense to a touchdown, 12 total points, and 282 total yards.

The 49ers forced two interceptions off Prescott and held Dallas to a 25-yard field goal from Brett Maher when Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled a punt deep into their own territory early in the second period.

Defensively, Dallas did a great job stopping San Francisco’s vaunted running game. But the 49ers held on, rushing for 113 yards, most of them in the second half.

“Some of those early two- to three-yard runs turned into four- to eight-yard runs late in the game, and that’s a big deal,” said McCaffrey, who finished with 57 yards from the line of scrimmage. “So sticking to it is important.”

49ers run. comeback Christian McCaffrey passes Cowboys for a touchdown

49ers run.  comeback Christian McCaffrey passes Cowboys for a touchdown

Christian McCaffrey’s rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter helped seal a playoff victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

San Francisco heads to Philadelphia on a 12-game winning streak as they seek to qualify for the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2019 season.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Kittle said of next week’s game. “You know how much Philadelphia fans love the opposing team and their fans. It gets cold and violent. It will be great.”

Eric D. Williams has covered the NFL for more than a decade, including the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @eric_d_williams.

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