49ers tight end Jimmy Garoppolo threw 28 passes against the Chargers. Seven went Brandon Aiyuk’s way, and Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel each saw six.
Even Jauan Jennings (4) had more targets that All-Pro tight end George Kittle and running back Elijah Mitchell saw as many as Kittle did.
Kittle caught one of the two passes that came his way for 21 yards.
“I’d love more than two targets, but it is what it is,” Kittle said, via Jennifer Lee Chan of NBCSportsBayArea.com. “We are winning the games, but I love the ball in my hands, and I like to provide a spark for the offense.”
Kittle is Garoppolo’s third-most targeted player, but the tight end’s 5.8 targets per game is down more than a target a game compared to his average targets his first five seasons. Kittle averaged 7.6 targets per game in his All-Pro season of 2019.
He has caught 29 of his 41 total targets for 340 receiving yards and two touchdowns through seven games, putting him on pace for under 50 yards per game.
Kittle was asked whether he had talked to coach Kyle Shanahan about wanting more involvement.
“Yes, and no,” Kittle said. “Have I walked into Kyle’s office and said ‘Give me the ball?’ No, I haven’t done that, but I tell Jimmy on the sidelines all the time, ‘Hey, I’m open. I’m in one-on-one coverage. I’m available. Just throw me the ball when you need me.’”
Aiyuk’s ascension and the addition of McCaffrey have been at the expense of Kittle, but at some point, Kittle will benefit from the increased focus on other players in the offense.