Sometimes a team can play well and still lose. The 49ers' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on "Sunday Night Football" was not one of those times.
There was plenty of blame to go around. Quarterback Nick Mullens had a terrible performance, but he also didn't get much help from a shockingly leaky offensive line. The front seven consistently failed to limit the Eagles' offense on early downs, and the secondary got beat by a practice squad player for the go-ahead touchdown.
Across the board, there simply weren't many encouraging developments for the 49ers. But what few there were give them something to build off heading into what is now a crucial home game against the Miami Dolphins next week. Specifically, George Kittle being George Kittle.
The All-Pro tight end returned from a two-game absence and looked just like his pre-injury self, hauling in 15 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown. He also gained eight yards on his only rush attempt. It was overshadowed by the loss, but Kittle had a record-breaking night.
Kittle became the first tight end in NFL history to record at least 15 receptions and 175 receiving yards in the same game. His 15 receptions also set a 49ers franchise record for the most in a single game by a tight end, and were the most by any 49er since Terrell Owens hauled in 20 receptions against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 17, 2000.
It wasn't just the quantity that was impressive; it was the quality, too. Kittle had a very high degree of difficulty on several of his receptions Sunday night. His six contested catches were the most by any NFL player in a single game since 2018.
There's no question the 49ers are a significantly better team when Kittle is on the field. His standout game wasn't enough to carry them to a win over the Eagles, but if you're looking for silver linings, he's it.