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'Whole team' wanted George Kittle to break TE record

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Kyle Shanahan wasn't going to let another chance for a record slip away from George Kittle without a fight.

Earlier in December, Shanahan lamented not force-feeding the Pro Bowl tight end to break the record for most TE receiving yards in a game after a massive first half.

In Sunday's season finale, with Kittle needing nine yards to beat the mark set by Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce less than an hour earlier, Shanahan beseeched his defense to get a stop to set up Kittle's chance at the place in history.

"We had a pretty good idea the game was over and we would have got people out of there, try to be as healthy as possible," Shanahan said after the 48-32 loss to the L.A. Rams, via ESPN.com. "But the whole team and us wanted to get that for Kittle."

The 49ers D stuffed the Rams on fourth down giving Kittle a chance to break the record.

"The fact that our defense, we're down like five guys and they still get a stop and they're going for it on fourth down," Kittle said. "And Nick [Mullens] says, 'Hey, screw it, I'm going to throw it to you.' And coach Shanahan says, 'Hey, you've got two plays to get this done. Get it done.'

"I cherish my teammates and my coaches. They've put a lot of effort into me, a lot of faith in me, and I'm just glad I could do it. But it's not individual -- this was definitely a team thing and I'm absolutely exhilarated to be on this type of team with these guys."

Kittle trotted out for the final drive needing nine yards to top Kelce. He got six on the first snap. Three to go.

He earned 43, and a touchdown for good measure. Kittle finished with 1,377 yards on the season, a new record for a tight end.

On Sunday, Kittle posted nine catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. On the season, the Pro Bowler compiled 88 receptions for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns.

It was apropos that Kittle's record-breaking catch came on a five-yard toss that the TE turned into a 40-plus-yard touchdown. The Niners' go-to target has been a YAC monster this season gobbling up defenders with a combination of speed and size.

The NFL's preeminent tight end brings the best combination of pass-catcher and run-blocker to the position since Rob Gronkowski, who previously held the record before Kelce broke it, started playing with a three-ton sled attached to his back. Kittle deservedly got the Pro Bowl nod earlier this month. Now he owns a record.

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