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49ers vs. Broncos: San Francisco Week 14 Game Balls & Highlights

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San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos Week 14 game balls highlights George Kittle
© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We hand out one well-deserved game ball to the San Francisco 49ers from the Niners’ 20-14 victory over the Denver Broncos in Week 14.

On yesterday’s Locked On 49ers Podcast, host Brian Peacock provided a rundown of the Niners’ game — including game notes and key takeaways — and handed out a single game ball from the San Francisco 49ers’ upset win over the Denver Broncos.

The 6-6 Broncos entered Week 14 of the 2018 NFL regular season with a three-game winning streak and a clear path to a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs. With upcoming matchups against three teams with losing records — the 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the Oakland Raiders — if Denver could sweep those three winnable games, their playoff hopes would come down to a Week-17 showdown with a Los Angeles Chargers team the Broncos defeated in Week 11.

Less than a year after a disappointing 2017 inaugural season, things were finally falling into place for head coach Vance Joseph and the Denver Broncos.

And then George Kittle happened.

Sunday’s 20-14 victory over the Broncos was a team affair for San Francisco, which included improved play from quarterback Nick Mullens, the 49ers’ offensive line and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s defensive unit. But given his historic performance, our lone game ball from Week 14 goes to the 49ers’ most valuable player of 2018, and the NFL’s most complete tight end, George Krieger Kittle:

49ers TE George Kittle

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle had the game of his career in just one half of football on Sunday. Kittle entered Week 14 needing just 73 receiving yards to surpass former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis’ franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season. The 2017 fifth-round draft pick broke that record by the end of the first quarter, and he was just getting started.

On the first play of the next drive, Kittle snuck out of the backfield, caught a pass from Mullens and proceeded to outrun the entire Broncos secondary for an 85-yard touchdown. Kittle’s catch-and-run put the electric tight end over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The last member of the Niners to eclipse the century mark through the air was wide receiver Anquan Boldin in 2014.

By the end of the first half, Kittle amassed an impressive stat line of seven receptions for 210 yards and a score. Unfortunately, an extremely quiet second half kept him from breaking former Denver Broncos star Shannon Sharpe‘s single-game record of 214 receiving yards by a tight end.

However, Kittle still has the opportunity to break additional records this season; with a team-leading 1,103 receiving yards over 13 games, Kittle is on pace for 1,358 receiving yards in 2018, which would top New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski‘s NFL-best 1,327-yard season in 2011. With just 18 NFL games under his belt, tight end George Kittle has only begun breaking records — and winning games — for the San Francisco 49ers:

San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos Week 14 game balls highlights George Kittle

Listen to Locked On 49ers host Brian Peacock’s review of the San Francisco 49ers’ Week 14 victory over the Denver Broncos — including game notes and key takeaways from the Niners’ third win of the season — on yesterday’s’ Rapid React podcast:

Chris Wilson is the Lead Writer for Locked on 49ers - part of the Locked On Podcast Network. You may have seen Chris Wilson’s work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis and film breakdowns at FanSided, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, ClutchPoints, Insidethe49 and others. Follow Chris Wilson on Twitter @cgawilson.

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