George Kittle vs. Budda Baker a key clash to watch in Week 9
San Francisco 49ers
Sunday November 7
4:25 p.m. ET
With the 49ers welcoming the Cardinals in Week 9, tight end George Kittle will look to extend his prowess on safety Budda Baker.
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t have the luxury of fielding tight end George Kittle in Week 5 when they faced the Arizona Cardinals on the road.
Kittle, after all, was sidelined in the injured reserve with a worsened calf injury the week before, which could have been a much-anticipated clash between him and Cardinals safety Budda Baker never came to fruition.
It’s a clash that Niners fans should be familiar with.
Two years earlier, in San Francisco’s magical run to the Super Bowl, Kittle still managed to score an unlikely touchdown with Baker on cover, cocking him stiff in the process. This, after Baker interrupted a number of passes intended for the All-Pro tight end:
The score prompted a shout “I’m still here, Budda” from the sidelines, which became quite a moment.
Granted, Kittle later acknowledged how good a player Baker is, telling NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco the following:
He’s a guy who honestly doesn’t get enough recognition. He is an incredible football player. We’re going to have a great showdown. We compete at a very high level. We have a lot of intensity and we both love football. I mean, what more do you want in a match?
And while fans weren’t treated to this mini rivalry earlier this season, they should be in Week 9 when these two teams face off again.
George Kittle appears to be coming back from a slow, injury-plagued start until 2021
Kittle’s injury is the latest setback in what has been a relatively slow start for the 49ers’ main offensive threat.
Prior to landing on a three-game IR roster, Kittle had collected just 19 receptions for 227 yards and no touchdowns, which would have equaled 965 yards in a full 17-game season. Not bad, at least against an average tight end. But given that Kittle is currently ranked among the elite in the NFL in this role, one could hope for a little more production.
Granted, the Niners have had all kinds of offensive challenges this season, including inconsistencies from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan having a relatively rambling offensive offense en route to the start of the year 3-4. of his team.
If there was ever a game to get Kittle back on track, Week 9 should be this one.
49ers George Kittle vs. Cardinals Budda Baker should be a game to watch
Over his career, Kittle totaled 29 receptions for 417 yards in seven games against Arizona, numbers that rank second against any opponent behind the Los Angeles Rams.
Even though Kittle is having a bad year, at least in terms of catches, yards and touchdowns, he remains the number one threat the Cardinals face. Along with Baker, they certainly feel like they have the best defensive weapon possible to do it.
Related Story: 4 Advantages The 49ers Now Have Over The Cardinals In Week 9
During the year, Baker currently has 47 tackles, two stoppages and one interception in eight games played. The opposing quarterbacks also boast an 89.6 passer rating when targeting him in the cover, the lowest rating he has allowed so far in his four-year career.
San Francisco is expected to be at full power on Sunday, including Kittle’s return, which means Kittle doesn’t automatically have to shoulder the full offensive load. However, as a lure, blocker and potential threat from the yards after capture, the 49ers will nonetheless want to gain the upper hand in this highly anticipated match between two prolific players.
The Niners and Cardinals kick off on Sunday, November 7 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.