Denver Broncos vs. San Francisco 49ers

DEN
14
SF
20
FINAL
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DEN 007714
SF 3170020

George Kittle puts up 210 receiving yards in the first half, outdoing the entire Denver Broncos. The San Francisco 49ers win this one 20-14.

0:58 | December 9, 2018 | Denver Broncos, Football, NFL, San Francisco 49ers

Game Information
Location: Levi's Stadium Santa Clara, California
Attendance: 69,449

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Kyle Shanahan pulled aside his star tight end and apologized to George Kittle for not getting him more opportunities in the second half to set an NFL record.

The coach even said sorry a second time.

Quarterback Nick Mullens placed the blame on himself after Kittle fell 4 yards short of Shannon Sharpe's NFL record by a tight end of 214 yards receiving.

Kittle still had a brilliant Sunday afternoon, making an 85-yard touchdown reception on the way to 210 yards receiving and becoming the 49ers' first tight end to reach the 1,000-yard milestone to lead San Francisco past the sluggish, injury-plagued Denver Broncos 20-14.

"Four yards, ahhh, it's all right," Kittle shrugged nonchalantly, unfazed by a near miss. "Next time. Just talk to Nick and Coach Shanahan, they'll figure it out."

Kittle's long TD reception on a pass from Mullens early in the second quarter put the Niners up 13-0 - "George flashed in my eyes," his QB said - and Denver (6-7) never found a groove in seeing its three-game winning streak snapped.

Kittle had all of his yards and seven receptions in the first half and was targeted just once after halftime. Again, no big deal.

"We won. That's about all that matters," Kittle said.

Broncos quarterback Case Keenum struggled to find any rhythm after the Broncos lost top wideout Emmanuel Sanders to a torn Achilles tendon in practice during the week.

Dante Pettis added a 1-yard touchdown reception just before halftime for the Niners (3-10).

But this was Kittle's sparkling afternoon from the very start. He has provided a major lift for an offense that dealt with the blow of losing starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Week 3 at Kansas City.

"We had one blown coverage, and a couple where we just didn't cover him," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said.

Mullens connected on eight of his first 12 throws for 124 yards and wound up 20 of 33 for 332 yards and a 102.1 rating.

"George had one heck of a day, 4 yards short of the record. You can blame that on me, I guess," Mullens said.

Denver (6-7), which sought its first four-game winning streak since starting the 2016 season 4-0, fell behind 20-0 at halftime then managed two second-half touchdowns to make things interesting.

Phillip Lindsay ran for a 3-yard score in the third then Case Keenum hit DaeSean Hamilton on a 1-yard TD toss with 3:53 remaining. Keenum went 24 of 42 for 186 yards.

San Francisco ended a three-game skid. The 49ers had lost their previous two games by 18 and 27 points, including a 43-16 defeat at rival Seattle last week.

SACK TIME

Denver's Von Miller sacked Mullens for a 9-yard loss late in the second quarter. Including the postseason, Miller's 103 1/2 sacks matched the franchise record held by Simon Fletcher.

Meanwhile, linebacker Bradley Chubb had two more sacks for 12 on the season to break Miller's franchise rookie record of 11 1/2 set in 2011.

KITTLE'S CATCHES

The previous time any 49ers player had 1,000 yards was in 2014, when Anquan Boldin had 1,062 yards receiving and Frank Gore 1,106 yards rushing.

In addition, Kittle's 52-yard catch and run to end the first quarter moved him past Vernon Davis for the 49ers franchise record for yards receiving by a tight end in a season.

Kittle came in needing 73 yards to top Davis' mark of 965 yards set in 2009.

"It's an honor. ... He set the standard," Kittle said.

On San Francisco's nine-play opening scoring drive - capped by Robbie Gould's 40-yard field goal - Kittle made receptions of 31 and 5 yards.

Gould made a 29-yarder early in the second.

ANOTHER RECEPTION

Niners left tackle Joe Staley celebrated a rare catch, the third of his 12-year career, late in the first half when he got his hands on a tipped pass by a defender for a 5-yard loss.

He will be fined for it, Shanahan insisted. Because of the chance of injury on such plays, trying for the ball isn't advised. Staley called it a "dumb decision," but explained it like this: "It's like telling me `Hey, there's pizza here, don't have slice.' I'm going to have a slice."

"Joe refuses to believe he's an O-lineman," Shanahan said. "... It was not a smart play."

INJURIES

Broncos: Cornerback Isaac Yiadom suffered a shoulder injury. Wideout Courtland Sutton nursed a thigh injury.

49ers: Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was able to return after landing hard on his left ankle late in the game when he went down defending a pass on the sideline.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Host Cleveland on Saturday.

49ers: Host Seattle on Sunday.

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1st Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Broncos 49ers
10:23 Robbie Gould 40 yd FG 0 3

2nd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Broncos 49ers
13:01 Robbie Gould 29 yd FG 0 6
09:47 George Kittle 85 yd pass from Nick Mullens (Robbie Gould kick) 0 13
00:08 Dante Pettis 1 yd pass from Nick Mullens (Robbie Gould kick) 0 20

3rd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Broncos 49ers
06:05 Phillip Lindsay 3 yd run (Brandon McManus kick) 7 20

4th Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Broncos 49ers
03:53 DaeSean Hamilton 1 yd pass from Case Keenum (Brandon McManus kick) 14 20

Team Stats
  Denver San Francisco
1st Downs 22 24
Total Yards 274 389
Passing 171 305
Passing Completions/Attempts 24-42 20-33
Yards/Pass 3.9 8.5
Rushing 103 84
Rushing Attempts 27 30
Yards/Rush 3.8 2.8
Turnovers 0 1
Fumbles Lost 0 0
Interceptions Thrown 0 1
Possession 29:19 30:41

Denver Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Case Keenum 24 42 186 4.4 1 0

San Francisco Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Nick Mullens 20 33 332 10.1 2 1

Denver Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
Royce Freeman 6 36 6.0 0 23
Phillip Lindsay 14 30 2.1 1 5
Case Keenum 4 24 6.0 0 16
Tim Patrick 1 11 11.0 0 11
Andy Janovich 1 3 3.0 0 3
Courtland Sutton 1 -1 -1.0 0 -1

San Francisco Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
Jeff Wilson Jr. 23 90 3.9 0 11
Alfred Morris 2 4 2.0 0 4
Nick Mullens 5 -10 -2.0 0 -1

Denver Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Tim Patrick 7 85 12.1 0 21
DaeSean Hamilton 7 47 6.7 1 18
Phillip Lindsay 4 21 5.2 0 9
Courtland Sutton 2 14 7.0 0 10
Devontae Booker 2 11 5.5 0 7
Brian Parker 1 5 5.0 0 5
Matt LaCosse 1 3 3.0 0 3
Royce Freeman 0 0 0.0 0

San Francisco Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
George Kittle 7 210 30.0 1 85
Dante Pettis 3 49 16.3 1 31
Kendrick Bourne 2 22 11.0 0 12
Kyle Juszczyk 2 21 10.5 0 17
Marquise Goodwin 2 20 10.0 0 13
Trent Taylor 1 6 6.0 0 6
Jeff Wilson Jr. 1 6 6.0 0 6
Alfred Morris 1 3 3.0 0 3
Garrett Celek 0 0 0.0 0
Joe Staley 1 -5 -5.0 0 -5

Denver Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
Todd Davis 5 3 0 0
Justin Simmons 5 1 0 0
Derek Wolfe 5 1 0 0
Bradley Roby 4 0 0 0
Darian Stewart 4 0 0 0
Von Miller 3 0 1 9
Shelby Harris 3 1 0 0
Josey Jewell 3 2 0 0
Bradley Chubb 2 2 2 18
Su'a Cravens 2 0 0 0
Adam Gotsis 2 1 0 0
Domata Peko 2 0 0 0
Zach Kerr 1 1 0 0
Will Parks 1 0 0 0
Shane Ray 1 0 0 0
Jamar Taylor 1 0 0 0
Dymonte Thomas 1 0 0 0
Tim Patrick 0 0 0 0
Shamarko Thomas 0 0 0 0
Isaac Yiadom 0 0 0 0

San Francisco Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
D.J. Reed Jr. 10 2 1 5
Marcell Harris 5 2 0 0
Richard Sherman 5 0 0 0
Ronald Blair III 3 0 1 10
Arik Armstead 3 1 0 0
DeForest Buckner 3 0 0 0
Antone Exum Jr. 3 0 0 0
Elijah Lee 3 1 0 0
Fred Warner 3 1 0 0
D.J. Jones 2 2 0 0
Cassius Marsh 2 0 0 0
Pita Taumoepenu 1 0 0 0
Ahkello Witherspoon 1 3 0 0
Garrett Celek 0 0 0 0
Matt Dayes 0 0 0 0
Ross Dwelley 0 0 0 0
Greg Mabin 0 0 0 0
Tarvarius Moore 0 0 0 0
James Onwualu 0 0 0 0
Trent Taylor 0 0 0 0
Solomon Thomas 0 0 0 0

Denver Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
Darian Stewart 1 0 0

San Francisco Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
No interceptions.

Denver Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
Brendan Langley 3 44 14.7 0 18
Devontae Booker 1 22 22.0 0 22
River Cracraft 1 0 0.0 0 0

San Francisco Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
Richie James Jr. 3 46 15.3 0 20

Denver Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
River Cracraft 3 20 6.7 0 20

San Francisco Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Trent Taylor 2 26 13.0 0 18
Richie James Jr. 1 0 0.0 0 0

Denver Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
No kicking stats.

San Francisco Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Robbie Gould 2 2 100.0 40

Denver Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Colby Wadman 6 287 55

San Francisco Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Bradley Pinion 5 210 47