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49ers Kittle, Deebo mic’d for Super Bowl run

49ers Kittle, Deebo mic’d for Super Bowl run
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SANTA CLARA — Spoiler alert: Cut straight to the last episode of Netflix’s new “Receiver” series to relive the 49ers’ heart-pumping, heart-breaking end to last season.

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Two 49ers are among the five main characters, and neither is Brandon Aiyuk. How’s that for a plot twist in an offseason otherwise held hostage by Aiyuk’s pursuit of a contract extension?

Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, amazing in their own right as 49ers captains and offensive stewards, proved phenomenal in “Receiver,” climaxing with their painful pursuit of a Super Bowl win that got away again.

Mic’d up, their on-field audio is revealing, not just with how determined they were to win but how they — like most football players — cope with injuries.

More compelling, their behind-the-scenes lives perfectly tapped into the human element. Their families’ support, and vice versa, is genuinely endearing.

The preceding seven episodes of “Receiver” are presumably just as compelling, and just in time to reignite everyone’s football fury with training camps starting (July 23 for the 49ers). The docuseries, which debuted Wednesday, retraces last NFL season with elite work from NFL Films and Omaha Productions.

The series finale charts the 49ers’ comeback win over the Detroit Lions for the NFC Championship before the Super Bowl defeat in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs. Each of those games is worth retelling for decades to come, and “Receiver” opens doors to the 49ers’ gains and pains.

Detroit’s Amon-Ra St. Brown is also among the series’ five highlighted receivers, so there’s plenty of Lions drama shared from the NFC Championship Game in Episode 8. The Raiders’ Davante Adams, an East Palo Alto native, and Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson are the series’ other two main characters.

But it’s the 49ers who have two players cast, two of their all-time best. Thanks to them alone, the “Receiver” finale offered a great first impression of the series.

Spoiler alert, here are notable highlights and revelations:

PLAYING THROUGH PAIN, PART I

Kittle refrains from sharing his aches and pains when asked in press conferences. But when the Super Bowl is on the line, he was blunt and transparent with coach Kyle Shanahan on the sideline before overtime began.

Kittle: “My shoulder’s (expletive) right now.”

Shanahan: “Tell me what you can do and can’t do.”

Kittle: “I can chip and block. I can’t raise my hand over my head, dude.”

Shanahan: “Basically you can’t run a route, really. Don’t call something for you?”

Kittle: “I wouldn’t. If Brock puts it on my chest, I can catch it.”

Shanahan: “Probably should put Charlie in, then?”

Kittle: “I would say yes right now. … Chuck, you’re up.”

Kittle retreated to the locker room to numb the searing pain in his shoulder, which was aggravated by how he landed on a critical fourth-down conversion. Kittle returned for the final few offensive plays in overtime as the 49ers settled for a field goal and temporary lead.

PLAYING THROUGH PAIN, PART II

Samuel also got hurt in the Super Bowl, as evident when he grasped at his left hamstring near his knee three minutes after halftime. He initially said it didn’t feel like a hamstring pull. He retreated to the sideline tent, then painfully tested it on the sideline with a few quick bursts.

When linebacker Fred Warner approached and asked if he wrapped the hamstring for support, Samuel replied: “No, thuggin’. Thuggin’.” Samuel returned to action to make a pair of 9-yard receptions on a night he caught three of 11 targets overall. (Warner, by the way, can find motivation from this episode, hearing how St. Brown boasts about blocking Warner on the Lions’ first touchdown.)

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NFC CHAMPIONSHIP COMEBACK

Faced with a 24-7 halftime deficit, the 49ers rallied to win the NFC Championship 34-31 at Levi’s Stadium, just as they scripted, right?

“I can’t wait until after the game and I get to say ‘You know what, they had us in the first half,’” a mic’d-up Kittle told Brock Purdy on the 49ers’ sideline. “Keep saying it. Have fun. Encourage guys. Right? You’re the guy. Get us going baby. Don’t change a thing.”

“Obviously I love George’s mindset helping me out, just trying to keep me calm,” Purdy told the series’ cameras. “He’s always been a guy who’s told me we’ve got your back, I’ve got your back.”

HALFTIME SPEECHES

“Receiver” takes you inside the 49ers’ and Lions’ locker rooms at halftime of that NFC title bout, but only for audio, and that is enough.

Lions coach Dan Campbell’s speech: “Finish this game like you started it. They will not go away. You have to make them go away.”

Shanahan’s: “That’s not going to be how we finish this season together. That was not our half of football. We have one half left together. We put ourselves in a hole. The key is we have to play different. We have to make some plays.”

MONTANA CAMEOS

Joe Montana was honorary captain for the NFC Championship Game, and “Receiver” captured fun interactions with him.

Samuel spotted Montana pregame on the 49ers sideline, hugged him, and said: “You look good out here.” Joe’s cool response: “I always look good.”

After the 49ers completed their comeback, Kittle was onstage looking for his wife, Claire, among the families and friends storming the field. Once he found her, Kittle darted off the stage, first passing by Montana and saying: “Hey Joe, how you doing? That was fun. I’ve got to find my wife.”

FAMILY PRIDE

The Kittles’ love story really could be its own series. Their mutual adoration constantly jumps off the screen. “Make some history. You’re the best in the world!” Claire said as she pushed George onto the field during NFC Championship Game warmups.

Scenes of Samuel’s family are just as endearing, with his girlfriend Mahogany Jones and their son Tyshun Jr. “Life is all about him at this point,” Deebo said.



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Written by Politixia

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