George Kittle entered Week 17 knowing that he had a chance to break Rob Gronkowski's single season NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end. Gronk had set the record at 1,327 yards in 2011; Kittle entered the game with 1,228 yards. Of course, Kittle wasn't the only tight end who entered Week 17 with a chance to break Gronk's yardage record -- Travis Kelce needed just 54 yards to break the record. He finished the day with five catches for 62 yards, breaking Gronk's record and setting the new mark for tight ends at 1,336 receiving yards.
Kelce's record didn't last very long, though.
Late in the game Kittle, who already had around 100 yards on the day, needed only a few more yards to break Kelce's record. He got a few yards and then some on the record-breaking catch:
Now that's taking the record with some serious panache. Kittle finished the game with nine receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. That's a hell of a game for a player who's had one hell of a season. Kittle set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end (88) and, as noted, set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season with a whopping 1,377.
As the 49ers' website noted, Kittle also (probably) led the NFL in yards after the catch:
Entering Sunday, Kittle also trailed Christian McCaffrey by 64 yards after the catch for the most YAC in the NFL. McCaffrey finished with just one reception for 22 yards in Week 17, which means that it's likely that Kittle leapfrogged into first place in that category as well. Leading the entire NFL in yards after the catch, combined with the single-season yardage mark for a tight end is truly unprecedented production.
I haven't seen official YAC stats from Week 17 yet, but if McCaffery had just one reception for 22 yards and Kittle had nine for 149 yards, well, I think it's fair to say that he probably caught and surpassed McCaffery in the YAC rankings for the season. George Kittle, a tight end, led the NFL in yards after the catch in 2018. (EDIT: It looks like he did finish second to McCaffery in YAC.)
What. A. Damn. Season.
Congrats to Kittle for setting an impressive NFL record and wrapping up a breakout season with one of his best games of the season. This was a year to remember for Kittle; hopefully it's only the beginning of an incredible career.