Two San Francisco 49ers have been selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, including a pair of cult heroes in former Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk and tight end George Kittle.
Juszczyk, in his sixth season, will start at fullback. He will be making his third straight trip to the Pro Bowl, and his second straight since signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 2017. In 14 games played this season (12 starts), Juszczyk has registered six carries for 21 yards (3.5 average) and 29 receptions for 309 yards (10.7 average) and one touchdown.
Kittle, the Stone Cold Steve Austin-loving second-year pass catcher out of Iowa, was selected as a reserve, making the game for the firs time. Kittle has started all 14 games this season and registered 72 receptions for 1,154 yards (16.0 average) and four touchdowns. His 1,154 yards on the year rank second in the NFL among tight ends and 10th among all players.
Kittle has drawn rave reviews from his teammates for both his locker room presence and his performance on the field, where he ranks first in the NFL in yards after catch with 740 (ahead of Juju Smith Schuster’s 570, tight end Travis Kelce’s 527 and Tyreke Hill’s 453). During his 85-yard catch-and-run touchdown two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, he reached a top speed of 20.39 MPH — the third-fastest speed reached by a tight end as a ball carrier this season.
“Obviously, he deserves to be a Pro Bowler,” cornerback Richard Sherman said after that game, in which Kittle came five yards short of tying the league record for receiving yards by a tight end, with 210. “He’s been arguably the best tight end in football, no disrespect to [Kansas City tight end Travis] Kelce or Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), or any of those other guys … but to be a second-year player playing the way he is, he makes an impact every game.”
Kittle has caught at least four passes in 11 straight games — the longest streak of his career and the longest by a San Francisco 49er since Terrell Owens did it in Weeks 5-15 of the 2002 season. His five games of 90 or more receiving yards ties Vernon Davis (2009) for the most such games in a single season by a San Francisco tight end, and he’s already blown by Davis for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season.
“George Kittle is a hell of a player, and he took some 10-yard plays the distance today,” Denver linebacker Von Miller said after the Week 14 shellacking the Broncos took at the hands of Kittle. “There’s not too many tight ends in the league that can do that.”
Along with Juszczyk and Kittle making the team, three 49ers were named as alternates, and will play should others at their back out or wind up injured. Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner — San Francisco’s sacks leader with 11 — as well as kicker Robbie Gould (29-of-30 on field goal attempts, including the game-winner on Sunday) and linebacker Mark Nzeocha (special teams).