George Kittle Breaks Travis Kelce's Record for Most Receiving Yards by a TE

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2018

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle celebrates after scoring during the second half in an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Travis Kelce passed Rob Gronkowski for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. Roughly an hour later, his record was broken by San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle. 

Kittle surpassed Kelce's record in exciting fashion:

Kittle finished the season with 1,377 yards, while Kelce finished with 1,336 yards.

The 49ers tight end is in just his second year in the NFL but showed he is one of the best in the league at his position this year. After totaling 515 yards as a rookie last season, he broke out in 2018 with at least 80 receiving yards in eight of 16 games.

He also finished with 88 catches and five touchdowns in an offense that featured few other quality options.

While Kelce benefited from playing with MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes, Kittle spent time with three different quarterbacks this year during a 4-12 season.

Of course, Kelce also had an outstanding season to briefly hold the record before it was broken. The Kansas City Chiefs star entered the game with 1,274 yards through 15 games, trailing Gronkowski by 53 yards. He caught a 25-yard pass from Mahomes with 14 minutes, 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter Sunday, bringing him to 62 yards for the game and putting him ahead of Gronk.

Kelce's 103 receptions this year also break Tony Gonzalez's single-season team record (102). The Bay Area News Group's Matt Schneidman noted it was a big day across the board for Kansas City's stars:

The 29-year-old was already widely regarded as one of the NFL's top tight ends entering the 2018 season. He had reached three straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 2016.

The arrival of Mahomes has helped Kelce reach a new level. The Chiefs entered Sunday averaging 309.7 yards per game through the air, third-most in the NFL. As one of the team's best pass-catchers, Kelce was bound to see a healthy bump in production.

The good news for the Chiefs is they have Kelce under contract through the 2021 season. He signed a five-year, $46 million extension in 2016. By the time he retires, Kelce might have a shot at toppling Gonazlez's all-time franchise marks for receptions (916) and receiving yards (10,940).

Meanwhile, Kittle could be just as dominant considering he is just scratching the surface of his potential. With more stability at quarterback, this Pro Bowl season could be the first of many for the 25-year-old.

With Zach Ertz also setting his own tight end record with 116 receptions on the season, this seems to be a new golden age at the position.

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