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Kittle is go-to receiver for 49ers

Sat, Nov 06, 2004

Alumnus of the Week - Week 9

George Kittle  TE | San Francisco 49ers
2017 Reese's Senior Bowl

It's been a disappointing season for 49ers fans, who had high expectations heading into the 2018 season. But, second year tight end George Kittle has been one of the pleasant surprises.

Kittle has emerged as one of the top tight ends in the league this season, and keeps getting better. Sunday, the former Iowa Hawkeye had four receptions for 108 yards, including a 71-yard catch and run for a score.

“I closed my eyes, 100 percent," Kittle told the media after the win. “Yep. I just kind of stuck an arm out there, and it fell in my hand.”

The catch was spectacular, but what Kittle did after the catch may have been better.  The 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end showed off his speed as he ran away from the Raiders' defense. 

On his 71-yard touchdown, Kittle reached a top speed of 20 mph, which is the second-fastest by a tight end this season, according to Next Gen Stats. Of the six-fastest speeds by a tight end with the ball in his hands, Kittle has three of them. 

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Kittle averaged a ridiculous 6.35 yards per route run to lead all tight ends in week nine. On the year, Kittle leads all tight ends with a 2.70 yards per route run average.

Other finalists:

Kareem Hunt  RB | Kansas City Chiefs
2017 Reese's Senior Bowl
Hunt has been a regular in this feature each week. On Sunday against the Browns, last year's Senior Bowl NFL Rookie of the Year rushed for 91 yards on 17 attemps and scored twice. He added a 50-yard touchdown grab to help the Chiefs run away from the Browns.

OJ Howard  TE | Tampa Bay Bucs
2017 Reese's Senior Bowl
Howard has quietly had a good year, making the most of his receptions. He hasn't had more than six receptions in a game this season -- and only has 28 overall -- but he has five touchdowns, including two on Sunday. He finished with four receptions for 53 yards, but has been a big red-zone target for Tampa QBs this year.