In a last-minute drill, it's painful to have to burn time and perhaps a final timeout just to pick up two yards deep in your own territory. The 49ers needed a chunk gain.
While the first three plays only gained eight yards, it gave a clue of where Jimmy G planned to go with the ball: Kittle.
And so, on fourth down, the QB took the snap and found the tight end with a rookie corner C.J. Gardner-Jonson in the trail position on an out route. The catch secured a first down.
But Kittle wasn't done.
The YAC monster turned upfield, and gobbled up green grass, blasting his way into Saints territory, stiff-armed a defender, carrying another on his back, fighting off a facemask penalty all the while. The 39-yard rumble, plus the 15-yard facemask penalty, set up the game-winning 30-yard Robbie Gould field goal. 49ers 48, Saints 46.
"Our tight end coach (Jon Embree) always says, don't let one guy tackle you," Kittle said, via The Sacramento Bee. "That's my mindset, just try to run through him, try to carry him as far as I can."
The run after catch was pivotal. If Kittle had been tripped up in bounds, the final 30 seconds could have played out much differently for San Francisco.
"I knew the (defender) was in a bad situation out there. (George) is a beast with the ball in his hands," Garoppolo said.
On a day that their defense didn't shut down Brees, the Niners were able to outduel the future Hall of Famer on his own turf. Come January, that experience could pay big dividends.