George Kittle gave Levi's Stadium a great one-liner from the trophy ceremony stage after the 49ers defeated the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.
“They had us in the first half, not gonna lie,” Kittle told fans. “But here we are.” Kittle's intensity and sportsmanship helped San Francisco beat Detroit despite only three receptions for 27 yards. The All-Pro confidently planned his one-liner hours before the game's end, in the second quarter when the 49ers trailed the Lions by 17 points.
Standing on the 49ers' sideline with teammates including quarterback Brock Purdy, Kittle added, “I can’t wait ‘til after the game, and I get to say, ‘They had us in the first half.’”
He gave Purdy good counsel in the same breath. “Keep slinging, have fun, and encourage the guys, right? “You’re the guy,” Kittle assured the young signal-caller. In the second half, the 49ers outscored the Lions 27-7 to win 34-31 after behind 24-7
Purdy, who struggled early, took his tight end's encouraging comments and guided San Francisco to the Super Bowl with a 20-for-31 TD, 267 yards, and a great pass to All-Pro Brandon Aiyuk.
Josh Dubow said Kittle's positivity helped the 49ers become the eighth NFL club to reach the Super Bowl after trailing in the divisional playoff and conference championship rounds. The 49ers are going to Las Vegas for their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy after beating the odds in two weeks.
San Francisco under Kyle Shanahan was 0-19 when behind by 17 points or more in the second half and 0-30 when down by seven points or more entering the fourth quarter before beating the Green Bay Packers and Detroit. Those numbers changed fast.
Kittle helped the 49ers reach their ninth Super Bowl, and the 30-year-old will need his energy against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Feb. 11.
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