Iowa football: Former Hawkeyes George Kittle, James Daniels shine in NFL's Week 14

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

Former Hawkeyes are littered throughout NFL rosters, but two stood above the rest Sunday.

Tight end George Kittle and left guard James Daniels played pivotal roles in leading their respective teams to Week 14 victories.

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 09: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after a play against the Denver Broncos during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)

Kittle hauled in seven catches for 210 yards and a TD, nearly setting the NFL single-game yardage record for a tight end in the San Francisco 49ers’ 20-14 win over the Denver Broncos. Daniels, meanwhile, helped shut down the Los Angeles Rams’ vaunted pass rush as the Chicago Bears pulled out a 15-6 win on Sunday Night Football.

Afterward, Daniels gave a nod to his Hawkeye pride. Here’s his postgame attire, courtesy of his father, former NFL lineman LeShun Daniels Sr., on Twitter.

Against Aaron Donald — who’s even getting a little MVP love as arguably the league’s best defensive player — Daniels punched well above his rookie weight. With a little bit of help from center Cody Whitehair, Daniels limited the Rams star to just two tackles and one quarterback hit.

Only twice this season has Donald recorded fewer tackles.

“It was fun,” Daniels told the Chicago Tribune. “One thing I learned is, I know it is true and I have always known it, but when you use your technique, it doesn’t matter who you are blocking, you will be fine. That is something I have always known, but today was something that really showed that.”  

Now, back to Kittle.

It’s been a another rough season in San Francisco, thanks in large part to key injuries and a tough schedule. The 49ers entered having dropped nine of their last 10.

But Kittle has been a bright spot all year. Sunday’s performance brought his season yardage total to 1,103, making him the first 1,000-yard tight end in franchise history.

Punctuating the emphatic day was an 85-yard touchdown grab early in the second quarter, as Kittle came wide open on a crossing route and zoomed by everyone to the end zone.   

‏As far as coming up four yards short of Shannon Sharpe’s NFL record, Kittle shrugged it off — but not before a few playful digs.

"Four yards, ahhh, it's all right," Kittle told reporters postgame. "Next time. Just talk to (quarterback) Nick (Mullens) and coach (Kyle) Shanahan, they'll figure it out."  


Other noteworthy performances by former Hawkeyes

  • Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens had nine tackles, including seven solo, in their 27-24 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Desmond King followed up his riveting showing last Sunday with another strong day against the Cincinnati Bengals, racking up three tackles and two kick returns for 66 yards.  
  • Denver Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell continued his solid rookie season, rolling up five tackles — three solo — and a pass defended.    

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.