Fantasy owners beware: George Kittle dropped another stinker.
The 49ers tight end reeled in two catches for a paltry 24 yards on "Monday Night Football," further frustrating fans who hoped to see the long-haired pass-catcher get more involved in Kyle Shanahan's aerial attack. Those believing that Kittle's fortunes would change with the reascension of Jimmy Garoppolo have been sadly mistaken through 2.5 games.
Kittle has 11 targets through four games. He's made six catches in 2022, twice putting up goose eggs. It doesn't make for pretty reading, particularly for those who spent an early-round fantasy pick on him.
Here's what NFL Network's fantasy guru Michael Florio had to say about Kittle's production (or lack thereof) on Monday:
Not a fan of George Kittle’s usage so far this season for fantasy purposes— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) October 4, 2022
Just 11 targets in his 2 games combined - he’s blocking more with the Niners o line banged up
Want to know a secret, though? Fantasy football isn't real.
Kittle's contributions to his team are, however.
It's long been known that Kittle is one of the league's best blocking tight ends, a player with the strength, quickness and fast hands to keep even the burliest of defensive players from the pocket. That commitment to blocking excellence has come up trumps in recent weeks, especially after All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams went down with an ankle injury.
Kittle puts dudes on their back, straight up. Look no further than the pancake he put on Rams safety Nick Scott on Deebo Samuel's touchdown on Monday:
Kittle has always been able to lay guys out. I mean, come on...
George Kittle was laughing at the end of his pancake block 😂🤣 pic.twitter.com/hE8dsuCm4P— Footballism™ (@FootbaIIism) January 18, 2020
Iowa TEs are built different. George Kittle serving pancakes from the field to the bench. pic.twitter.com/SLItpCMDS7— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) September 22, 2019
Baldy’s Breakdown of George Kittle’s double-pancake 😌 pic.twitter.com/Ld5vcFLdQe— 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙎𝙁𝙉𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙨 (@TheSFNiners) September 13, 2021
But Kittle's blocking prowess has taken on a new layer of importance in Williams' absence.
The results have been encouraging in the past few weeks. With Garoppolo at the helm, the Niners have won two of their three games. And although Kittle has received precious few receptions in that span, Garoppolo hasn't found himself in a deluge of pressure like...say, Matthew Stafford.
Jimmy G went down once in San Fran's Week 2 beatdown of Seattle. He stayed upright all night long in the Niners' win over the Rams. And ultimately, if Garoppolo can stay on his feet, it gives him a chance to get the ball to his weapons. Players like Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and...George Kittle, among others.
For what it's worth, Kittle is taking things in stride. In his postgame media scrum, Kittle acknowledged that his passion is for catching footballs. However, he was adamant that he would do whatever Shanahan and his coaching staff needed for the team to pick up dubs.
"I love catching footballs, I love to be out there scoring and stuff like that. Some nights it doesn't happen," Kittle said. "But I'll be damned if I don't make an impact in the run game which I definitely did tonight."
“I’m out there doing my job.”— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) October 4, 2022
George Kittle on having no first-half targets and finishing with two catches for 24 yards pic.twitter.com/buzXWvoUEb
Also, Kittle nearly showcased that incredible pass-catching ability, just falling short of getting his foot down after a 20-yard dart from Garoppolo.
So no, it's not the most ideal situation for Kittle — or fantasy owners. But with Williams approaching full fitness and Garoppolo settling back into the offense, Kittle looks poised to play a bigger role in the pass game going forward.
And even if that doesn't happen, Kittle will do what he always has done; make big plays, no matter if that's on the line of in open field.