Look up the definition of the word "fire" and you'll probably see a picture of George Kittle staring back at you. The San Francisco 49ers are still reeling from their 31-20 loss in Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, but it stings that much more considering the former had a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. In the end, Patrick Mahomes and Co. did what they tend to do -- strike fast and hard when their backs are against the wall. And as Mahomes went on to land Super Bowl MVP honors, there was at least one play that helped cost the 49ers a possible victory, and it'll forever haunt Kittle.
On third-and-5 with only 14 seconds remaining in the first half and the score tied at 10-10, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo dropped back and heaved a ball downfield to a streaking Kittle for a meaty 42-yard gain, only it wasn't. There was laundry on the field, and Kittle wound up being called for offensive pass interference, which robbed the 49ers of a field goal attempt before halftime that could've made it a 13-10 affair.
Needless to say, the call was controversial.
Now, you could argue they didn't lose by three points, and that's valid, but just as valid is the counterargument that says football is a game of momentum and moving chess pieces. In other words, there's no way to know how points on that drive would've impacted how the Chiefs -- or either team -- called the game from that point forward, but it's all inconsequential at this point.
That is, unless you're Kittle.
Toss that controversial call on the pile of things that helped the 49ers implode against Mahomes and the Chiefs, then pour gasoline on it and toss a lit match, because that's precisely the bonfire that now burns within Kittle. As the All-Pro tight end watched the clock near all zeroes in his first Super Bowl, and with him being on the wrong side of the victory line, Kittle swore it wouldn't be his last trip to the Big Game.
"I will be back here," he said. "I will be back here, and I will be back with a m---------ing vengeance."
Head coach Kyle Shanahan agrees, Los Angeles Rams as evidence. The Rams failed to make the playoffs the season following their Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, and only three teams in NFL history have achieved that feat and won -- a very real reminder of the parity in the league and just how difficult it can be to reach the pinnacle of the sport in consecutive seasons.for the 49ers to bounce back after the loss. History isn't working on their side though, and they can look no further than the
Kittle, who the 49ers are hoping to secure on a long-term extension sooner than later, is now hellbent on breaking that trend and given his drive to succeed, you'd be hard-pressed to not believe him.