What they're saying about former Iowa football star George Kittle's heroics in Sunday's playoff win

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

Former Iowa Hawkeyes tight end George Kittle made one of the biggest plays Sunday in the San Francisco 49ers’ playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Kittle’s juggling catch that bounced off his facemask arrived late in the third quarter of the 49ers’ 19-12 victory, setting up San Francisco’s only touchdown drive in the game. The 30-yard catch was Brock Purdy’s longest completion of the day and served as the biggest catalyst in moving the 49ers one win away from the Super Bowl.

Kittle finished with five receptions for 95 yards. The grab everyone wanted to talk about postgame was obvious.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, right, catches a pass in front of Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore (96) during the second half of Sunday's game.

Turns out, George Kittle wasn’t even supposed to be running a route on his game-changing play.


“Kittle, he wasn’t supposed to run down the field like that but he felt space,” former Iowa State Cyclone Purdy told reporters after the game. “That’s what I love about him.”

Although they come from rival colleges, Purdy and Kittle have formed quite the connection during this 49ers run. If San Francisco is going to beat the Philadelphia Eagles next week on the road, no doubt Purdy and Kittle will have to come up with more big plays.

Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wrote about "The Bobble" in this piece.

"That’s what the 49ers were calling Kittle’s play in the locker room," Jenkins writes. "In January 1982, it was Dwight Clark who grabbed 'The Catch' from Joe Montana, the leaping fingertip-snare that beat the Cowboys to clinch a Super Bowl trip and define a triumphalist era for this team. 'The Bobble' was somewhat less definitive — the 49ers still must get past the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles if they want to play for the Lombardi Trophy. But it will be part of a timeless reel nevertheless, watched over and over again."

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates after an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday.

George Kittle’s easygoing attitude kept the 49ers locked in during a long battle

Unlike other games on this Purdy-Kittle surge, San Francisco was locked in a tight affair with little room for error. Kittle’s catch came with the game tied 9-9 and Dallas owning momentum.

Perfect time for a rookie quarterback to get rattled, unless someone like Kittle is there to lighten the mood.

"Football is a lot easier when you're having fun,” Kittle told reporters postgame.

You can check out Kittle’s full answer here.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates after catching a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday.

George Kittle has an early prediction for next week’s NFC Championship game

San Francisco will head on the road for the first time in this playoffs, traveling to Philadelphia for the NFC title game. The Eagles had a lot less resistance in reaching next Sunday’s game, upending the Giants with a cruise-control victory.

"To go into Philly, which is a fantastic atmosphere … It's going to be wonderful,” Kittle told reporters postgame. “I know how much the fans love the opposing team. It's going to be cold and violent and it's going to be a blast."

Hard to imagine anyone enjoying a “cold and violent” football game more than Kittle.

Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.