This was a big week for former Iowa players in the NFL, folks, with several ex-Hawkeyes absolutely balling out at the next level. Let's dive right in.
George Kittle returned to the field for the 49ers after a two-week absence due to injury and he was not just good, he was spectacular. Kittle finished the game with a whopping 15 catches (!) for 183 yards (!!) and a touchdown. He was absolutely humbling defenders in the process, too:
Touchdowns are always good:
Covered or not, George Kittle is going to make the damn catch:
Leaders in contested catches through Week 4:— PFF (@PFF) October 5, 2020
Stefon Diggs - 7
George Kittle - 6
A.J. Green - 6
Mike Gesicki - 6 pic.twitter.com/O8rZ35oOYe
Kittle's impressive day at the office also put him into some pretty rarefied air at the tight end position:
There have been fourteen 180-yard receiving games by a tight end in NFL history.— Adam Harstad (@AdamHarstad) October 5, 2020
Kittle joins Shannon Sharpe and Vernon Davis as the only players with two of them.
The quarterback throwing several of those passes to Kittle was another familiar face, too, as C.J. Beathard made his first appearance for the 49ers since the middle of the 2018 season in San Francisco's game against Philadelphia. Nick Mullens started the game at quarterback for the Niners, but he was benched in the fourth quarter after turning the ball over three times with a fumble and a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a score. Beathard played pretty well in place of Mullens, going 14/19 for 138 yards and a touchdown -- with no turnovers. He wasn't able to complete the comeback bid for the Niners, but he played well enough to give them a (slight) chance. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be back on the field soon after sustaining a high-ankle sprain a few weeks ago, but if he's not able to return immediately (or if he exacerbates that injury), Beathard has seemingly positioned to get more playing time in San Francisco.
Ochocinco is on the Beathard Bandwagon:
CJ Beathard came in looking like a 10 year vet at the helm— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) October 5, 2020
In other tight end news, T.J. Hockenson caught just two passes for nine yards -- but one of them was a touchdown, so that's nice.
Hockenson also caught a two-point conversion pass in Detroit's failed comeback bid against New Orleans, which means he averaged 2.67 points for the Lions every time he caught a pass in that game -- sounds like they need to get the ball to T.J. more...
The third member of Iowa's terrific trio of tight ends, Noah Fant, didn't have a touchdown in Denver's 37-28 win over the Jets, but he did have five catches for 35 yards on the night. He left the game with an ankle injury, but isn't expected to miss any games:
Text on the condition of Broncos TE Noah Fant, who was carted off tonight with an ankle injury: All good. Minor. He will be fine.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 2, 2020
Tristan Wirfs continued the stellar start to his rookie season by shutting down San Diego's star pass rusher Joey Bosa on Sunday. If you like pancakes, Wirfs is serving 'em up:
Wirfs vs. Bosa from Week 4. Can't say enough good things about the rookie's performance, even with Bosa nursing a triceps injury. Never saw Bosa on the ground this much.— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 5, 2020
(The two reps Bosa won vs. Wirfs are at the end of this reel) pic.twitter.com/kwLxtUT6FO
Through four weeks, Wirfs' performance looks very favorable next to the other tackles drafted near the top of the first round:
Here's how Tristan Wirfs stacks up so far with the 3 OTs chosen before him in the NFL Draft, according to PFF:— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) October 6, 2020
Tristan Wirfs - 73.7
(#13 pick, Bucs)
Mekhi Becton - 72.6
(#11 pick, Jets)
Jedrick Wills - 63.9
(#10 pick, Browns)
Andrew Thomas - 53.7
(#4 pick, Giants)
Shockingly, it turns out Tristan Wirfs is really good at football!
James Ferentz made his season debut and started for New England's offensive line on Monday night. Austin Blythe started at center for the Los Angeles Rams and continued his strong play as they knocked off the Giants. James Daniels started at offensive guard for Chicago. Riley Reiff (and the Vikings offense as a whole) rebounded with a strong week in Minnesota's win over Houston, including a key block for Crazy Legs Kirk Cousins:
Casey Kreiter handled long-snapping duties for the Giants in their loss to the Rams, while Ike Boettger was inactive for Buffalo.
Josey Jewell was the star man for former Iowa defenders this week, posting a monster stat line for Denver in their win over the hapless Jets: 10 tackles (8 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a pass deflection.
He finished as the highest-rated player (per Pro Football Focus) from that game:
Highest-graded players from TNF:— PFF (@PFF) October 2, 2020
1. Josey Jewell - 91.0
2. Avery Williamson - 90.5
3. Bradley Chubb - 89.8
4. Tim Patrick - 86.9
5. Alexander Johnson - 85.2 pic.twitter.com/QYMlA9IUgQ
In that same game, Michael Ojemudia finished with two tackles (both solo) and a pass deflection for Denver.
Micah Hyde had six tackles (five solo) and a pass deflection for Buffalo in their win over the Las Vegas Raiders. A.J. Epenesa played for Buffalo as well, but did not record any stats.
Anthony Hitchens had six tackles (three solo) for Kansas City in their win over New England on Monday night. Ben Niemann recorded just two tackles (one solo) for KC in that game, but did recover a fumble.
Desmond King had five tackles (four solo) in the Chargers' loss to Tampa Bay. He did not return any kickoffs or punts. In the same game Anthony Nelson recorded one tackle (a tackle for loss) for the Tampa Bay defense.
Josh Jackson saw extended action for Green Bay due to a spate of injuries in the Packer secondary during their Monday night win over Atlanta; he finished with two tackles (both solo). Jaleel Johnson finished with two tackles (one solo) in Minnesota's win over Houston.
Amani Hooker did not play as Tennessee's game with Pittsburgh was postponed due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the Titans organization. Geno Stone was inactive for Balitmore. Adrian Clayborn missed Cleveland's win over Dallas with a hip injury. Cincinnati placed Mike Daniels on injured reserve with an elbow injury. Green Bay placed Christian Kirksey on injured reserve with a pectoral injury.