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Super Bowl: George Kittle's 1st catch makes good on 4th-down gamble, sets up go-ahead 49ers touchdown

George Kittle stretched for a critical fourth-down conversion in Sunday's Super Bowl. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
George Kittle stretched for a critical fourth-down conversion in Sunday's Super Bowl. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images) (Michael Reaves via Getty Images)

Kyle Shanahan took a big gamble in Sunday's Super Bowl. It paid off.

With the 49ers trailing 13-10 early in the fourth quarter, San Francisco faced fourth-and-3 from the Kansas City 15-yard line. Shanahan did not opt for a game-tying field-goal attempt.

The 49ers head coach instead sent his offense back onto the field in an effort to convert. Brock Purdy took a shotgun snap, then looked immediately to George Kittle in the right flat. Kittle hauled in the pass, then stretched past the sideline marker for a first down.

The catch was the first of the day for the All-Pro tight end. And it was a big one.

Two plays later, Purdy found Jauan Jennings in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown. Jennings hauled in the pass on a crossing route, then broke two tackles before crossing the goal line.

It was Jennings' second touchdown of the game after he threw his first to Christian McCaffrey on a trick play in the first half.

It wasn't all good for the 49ers, though. The extra point was blocked, and the Chiefs remained within a field goal, trailing 16-13.

Kansas City tied the game with a field goal on its ensuing drive.

Surprisingly, Shanahan's gamble wasn't supported by analytics. Per The Athletic's Ben Baldwin, analytics slightly supported kicking a game-tying field goal in that spot.

But results trumped process in this instance, with the 49ers coming out on top of a big roll of the dice in the highest-stake spot of the NFL season.