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Kittle downplays ‘rust' bothering 49ers in win over Packers

Kittle downplays ‘rust' bothering 49ers in win over Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers dealt with the blessing and the curse of clinching the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed.

After securing a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, San Francisco had to weigh rest versus rust from their Jan. 7 Week 18 regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams to their Jan. 20 divisional-round matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

Even though the two-week break was evident in San Francisco's start to Saturday's game against Green Bay, 49ers tight end George Kittle downplayed any rust concerns on a recent "The Pat McAfee Show" appearance.

"We get the one seed and then, hey, next game against the Rams. While every game matters, it doesn't affect our seeding at all," Kittle said Tuesday. "So we had some guys not play very much. It's kind of like having the mindset of, 'Hey we have to flip the switch to go play a football game this week that ultimately doesn't affect our season.' And all we're really trying to do is get through this healthy while not trying to get rusty. It's kind of a really weird mindset to be in.

"So whether you can look at it as we had two weeks off, kind of, most of the players did. Could there be a little rust there? I don't know, maybe. I think just playoff atmosphere, getting back out there with the boys, it just takes a couple drives to get going and eventually, we did."

San Francisco crawled out of Levi's Stadium with a 24-21 win on Saturday, but the road to victory wasn't pretty. All three phases of the 49ers' game seemed to be out of tune, with the rainy weather conditions a clear factor in that.

Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy didn't have his best showing, to say the least, but when it mattered most, he led a game-winning drive to give San Francisco the lead late in the fourth quarter. The 24-year-old finished Saturday's win over Green Bay completing 23 of 29 passes for 252 yards, one touchdown and 14 rushing yards.

Kittle finished with four receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. And in the end, despite the sluggish start, the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the fourth time in five seasons.

But the 49ers better hope the rust is completely shaken off as they prepare to welcome Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions on Sunday with a trip to Super Bowl LVIII on the line.

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