Week 14 marked a bittersweet victory for the San Francisco 49ers. George Kittle stole the headlines with a dominant 210-yard, one-touchdown performance. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s defense managed to shutout the Denver Broncos in the first half en route to the team's 20-14 win.
Following the victory, head coach Kyle Shanahan dedicated Sunday's victory to the late Tony York, who passed away over the weekend. Tony was the youngest son of team owners Denise DeBartolo York and Dr. John York and brother of CEO Jed York.
Here’s what the 49ers locker room had to say following the emotional victory over the Broncos.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan on the memory of Tony York:
"(I) just wanted to say, everyone knows the tragic stuff we dealt with yesterday, losing Tony York. This game was definitely for him. Getting to know the Yorks the last two years, the one thing that was so apparent to me about Tony, the times I’ve been around him, he was the biggest Niners fan out of any of them and really out of anyone I’ve been around since I’ve been in San Fran. Yeah, he is an owner, but just the true fan he was for the Niners always was so fun to watch. That’s what was so cool about him. For us to have a win today with what happened to him yesterday, it means a ton. I know it means a lot to the York family. He was a special person who will be missed a lot. Prayers are with all the Yorks today. Jed was able to come and we just had a special moment with him in the locker room. I know his parents weren’t and we’re there with them and I hope everyone’s prayers are for them."
Shanahan on Kittle’s success on offense against the Broncos:
“We always try to call Kittle’s number, but it depends what the coverages are. They played a ton of man coverage and he definitely beat the guy who was covering him. Nick (Mullens) made some good throws that got him some good yards after the catch. But, I wish I called his number more in the second half though.”
Shanahan on the 49ers difficulties moving the ball in the second half:
“They are a good team. They played a ton of man coverage, so they didn’t change too much up. Couldn’t get our run game going. They got good edge players and very big, stout inside players. Couldn’t create enough space in that. I didn’t study the stats or anything, but when you don’t run the ball very well and you do bad on third down, which I believe we really struggled on third down in the second half, you’re not going to stay out there long.”
Shanahan on the improvements of the 49ers front seven from the week prior:
“I thought they were rushing hard and going all day. That’s what I saw from them last week too. They had more success this week. Did a good job in the pass game. I thought we handled the run game much better. We struggled with our edges last week, which got us a number of explosives. I know they tried to hit us with a number of the same things and the guys did a much better job.”
QB Nick Mullens on Kittle’s performance in the first half:
“He was open every play, man. It was crazy. Shoot, all the receivers were. That’s why I give the coaches so much credit. The guys were wide open. So, that’s fun, man. The O-Line played great. They were protecting their butts off and we really just had a rhythm. I’ve said it in the past, when we really just focus on ourselves, our assignments and everybody works as a collective unit, we’re a pretty good offense, and that showed in the first half. Second half, got off our rhythm, I guess you could say. But, we finished. It was a solid first half.”
Mullens on his 85-yard touchdown to Kittle:
“It was awesome. We had a clear-out on the high cross, and George flashed in my eyes when I came off the play-action fake. George, like I’ve said so many times, he’s sneaky athletic. Caught it and ran. Used his speed that we all know he has, and it’s a touchdown for everybody. George had one heck of a day. Four yards short of the record, I’ve been told. You can blame that on me, I guess. It would’ve been really cool to get him that record. But, yeah, George balled out and it was a great play.”
CB Richard Sherman on the vibe of the locker room following the win:
“It’s somber obviously. Obviously, there was a huge loss to the organization and the York family when Tony passed away. Obviously, there was a lot of enthusiasm in trying to get this game for him and for the family, for Dr. York, Denise and Jed. You fight hard and you play hard, but you hope to get the bounces. We got some really cool bounces today. I’m thankful we could pull it out for the family. It feels good to win, especially in a tough season like the one we’ve been having, but you still feel for the family. There’s not much we can do outside of what we’ve done to try to help give them solace, but we’re doing everything that we can.”
Sherman on his evaluation of Kittle:
“He’s dynamic. George Kittle is a really dynamic player. I don’t think he gets enough credit for how athletic he is. It’s very similar to (Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis) Kelce out in Kansas City with how slippery he is. His lateral movement is deceptive. He has a ton of speed. Maybe they just ran the ball a lot more in college and didn’t give him an opportunity, but he’s just really way more athletic than people understand.”
Sherman on Kittle's breakout season:
“We’re happy for him, he deserves everything he’s getting. Obviously, he deserves to be a Pro Bowler this year. He’s been arguably the best tight end in football, no disrespect to Kelce or (New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski) Gronk or any of those other guys that are playing good football. But to be a second-year player playing the way he is, he makes an impact every game. He’s our number one receiver yards-wise and targets-wise. It’s not like it’s a surprise that we’re throwing the ball to him against Denver, and they still couldn’t stop him. He’s just beating guys one-on-one and having a day. He had 210 yards in the first half. I don’t think I’ve seen that done, period.”
Sherman on the performance of the 49ers defensive line:
“The guys up front are animals. They played so disciplined and never get enough credit. Arik Armstead was a monster. Obviously (DeForest Buckner) DeFo gets a lot of credit. He did a phenomenal job. (Solomon Thomas) Solly came in there and gave us energy and gave an impact. It was a great use of our personnel. We’re working to get different guys in different spots throughout the game. They did a phenomenal job of being disruptive and making tackles.”
DL DeForest Buckner on holding Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay to just 30 yards rushing:
“Especially after last week, we put a big emphasis this week on stopping the run. It was a big deal on all levels of the defense, setting the edge. We did that today and we were happy to have this opportunity, especially against a good run team like Denver. A lot of the young guys showed up, a lot of guys got more reps. Like (Richard Sherman) was saying, Marcell (Harris), D.J. Reed made some really good plays in the run game. All around, everyone ran their run fits pretty well today.”
Buckner on the 49ers defense feeding off of Kittle’s energy:
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Kittle, it doesn’t matter who it is just feeding off of the energy. Everybody is happy to see Kittle reach 1,000 yards and break some records today so it was awesome to see him do that on a personal level for him. It definitely gets the team going for sure.”
TE George Kittle on his 85-yard touchdown:
“On the play I’m supposed to sell an insert run play. We ran it two times before that with an actual run. The backs were blitzing through and everyone was crashing down, so there really wasn’t a hole to run through. I just ran over the ball and kind of just dropped in. It’s really fun, especially when you catch the ball and there’s nothing but green grass in front of you. It’s really fun because you just get to run. It was really fun.”
Kittle on how Mullens handled himself against Von Miller and the Broncos defense:
“Nick got the ball where we needed to. Our offensive line gave him all the time that he needed against an incredible pass defense with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The fact that he could get the ball off, I think he played really well, especially on that last third down to Dante Pettis. I was just very impressed with him.”
Kittle on running angry with the ball in his hands:
“My tight ends coach always tells me that you have to make DBs catch you. So, on that first one, I wasn’t just going to let him go for my legs. You have to make people tackle you. So yes, you definitely have to play angry and play with the mindset that I’m not going to be tackled by you unless you want to tackle me.”
DL Cassius Marsh on the 49ers run defense against Lindsay:
“Guys were definitely happy to shut him down. There was a lot of talk about their run game and we definitely respect their run game. They have been doing a lot of great things in the last six to seven weeks or whatever it was. Yes, we were happy to shut down the run game, especially (Phillip) Lindsay.”
T Mike McGlinchey on facing an edge rusher like Von Miller:
“I think that I set to a position. I got off the ball on the cadence. I had my eyes where they were supposed to be. I had my hands where they were supposed to be and I played long. I kept him off me. I tried to play situational football stay in front, make him react off of me instead of giving him a three-way or two-way go or whatever, like other guys have done in the past. I think that I did a pretty good job of that today. It took me the first two series or so to get the speed of it down, and I think we settled down after that.”
RB Jeff Wilson Jr. on Mullens' performance:
“He was great. He was great. That’s my boy. You know I’ve been battling him ever since the college days. We were in the same conference. I know he’s a baller so it doesn’t surprise me.”
View game photos as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Denver Broncos.