49ers stun Broncos behind George Kittle’s big half


The 49ers had nothing to play for but draft position. But they had George Kittle, and that was enough.

Sparked by an incredible game from their second-year tight end, the 49ers beat the Broncos 20-14, which could knock them out of the top spot in the 2019 NFL Draft order. At least for the moment.

Kittle had seven catches for 210 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone, and though he didn’t add to that in the second half (only targeted once more), he helped stake the 49ers to a lead they wouldn’t give up.

Quarterback Nick Mullens was a more-or-less-OK 20-of-33 for 332 yards, two touchdowns and an interceptions, and was able to find just enough non-Kittles in the second half to keep the clock moving. But they gave the Broncos one chance too many by taking a knee too soon, allowing one final play but there would be no Miami-style miracle.

The Broncos played with a sense of desperation, which was reasonable. They went for seven fourth downs, making two of them, and closed the margin late to make it interesting.

The loss was a brutal one for the Broncos in a recent run of them.

After losing cornerback Chris Harris and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to injuries, they looked as directionless as you might expect a team to.

And at 6-7, they fell out of the knot of 7-6 teams in the AFC (Dolphins, Ravens, Colts, and Titans) jockeying for the final wild card spot.