Rams focused on stopping San Francisco 49ers “igniter” TE George Kittle

Iowa product has career highs in receiving yards and catches vs. Rams
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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay has seen up-close the impact San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle has on the game.

On Sunday, McVay’s Rams have to figure out a way to limit Kittle’s dynamic playmaking ability. The University of Iowa product has career highs in targets (47), receptions (32), receiving yards (537) and touchdowns (3) in six career games against the Rams, averaging 11.4 yards per reception.

“He’s a great player,” McVay said. “They do a great job of moving him around. He’s one of the more complete tight ends that you’ll see in terms of competing with the ball or without the ball. They find creative ways to get him involved. He’s as good as anybody after the catch and then all the things that he does in-line. I mean, he’s an igniter for them.”

Kittle has done a lot of his damage to opposing defenses on crossing routes. According to Next Gen Sports, Kittle has the most yards after catch on crossing routes (473 yards) in the NFL since 2018, with Rams receivers Robert Woods (420) and Cooper Kupp (358) trailing him at second and third in the league.

Through five games, Kittle leads the Niners with 23 receptions for 271 receiving yards and score. And with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo still nursing a high-ankle sprain and being benched last week in favor of C.J. Beathard, San Francisco will likely lean even more on Kittle against the Rams.

McVay said the Rams will be ready for Kittle, with L.A. lock-down corner Jalen Ramsey a potential solution to slow down the talented tight end. 

“He has a great play energy about himself, when the ball gets in his hands you can tell everybody gets excited,” McVay said. “He’s breaking tackles, he’s providing a spark. But he does the same thing without the ball when they’re running wide zone at him and he’s working to tackle tight end combination up to the second level or reaching a ‘Sam’ (line)backer.

“So, he’s a great player. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and (49ers Tight Ends and Assistant Head Coach) Jon Embree does a great job with those guys.”