The San Francisco 49ers are out of the 2021 NFL playoff picture, but they still affected the race with their Week 16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. For 49ers tight end George Kittle, knocking a division rival to the outside of the playoff chase came with a little extra meaning.
Kittle grew up a fan of the Chicago Bears, who benefitted from the Cardinals’ loss. Arizona’s defeat pushed the Bears into the seventh and final playoff spot. The 49ers’ tight end said that extra ripple effect of San Francisco’s win made the win just a bit better.
“I did grow up a Bears fan and the fact that we helped the Bears out a little bit makes me a little happier. … Da Bears,” Kittle said per the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch.
Kittle on Saturday returned to the lineup for the first time since fracturing his foot in Week 8 against the Seahawks. He played just 28 snaps but hauled in four of his five targets for 92 yards. His presence as a blocker also helped the 49ers rack up 227 rushing yards – their most in a regular season game since Week 8 of the 2019 season.
While Kittle may not root for his favorite childhood team anymore, he and the 49ers certainly helped out their playoff chances with Saturday’s victory.