49ers George Kittle long ago circled this trip to face Rams

SANTA CLARA – George Kittle used the 49ers’ last trip to the Los Angeles Rams to finish off his single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end.

This time, his motivation is about starting the 49ers’ divisional record 1-0, as they open NFC West play Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s something I’ve had circled on my calendar for a while,” Kittle said Thursday. I’m just really looking forward to being able to go back down there and finally giving them a good fight.”

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is tackled by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill during the second half in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) 

It’s a matchup worthy of circling, of course, with the 49ers (4-0) and the Rams (3-2) meeting with winning records for the first time since 1989.

Added Kittle: “The last few times we’ve played them, we haven’t given ourselves a shot at all, and we’ve had turnovers left and right. … Since we’ve gotten whipped the past few times, I’d like to play better.”

Since 2017, the 49ers have lost to the Rams 41-39, 39-10 and 48-32, and the 49ers’ only victory 34-13 in the 2017 regular-season finale against the Rams’ junior varsity.

Kittle’s role will be more than Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target, and more than a usual end-line blocker. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk’s knee injury will force the 49ers league-leading rushing attack to make alterations, with Ross Dwelley likely assuming many of Juszcyzyk’s duties. Kittle noted that this week’s game plan may have “help in that landscape, as well.”

“I won’t be the first to say I’m much better at tight end than I am at fullback,” Kittle said. “Hopefully I’m not too much in the backfield. … They did some different things and it’s kind of fun to try out new stuff, so we’re looking forward to it.”

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) reactes after missing a field goal kick against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio) 


Kicker Robbie Gould, having missed 5-of-12 field-goal attempts, called this “by far the worst I’ve ever kicked in my career,” and he refused to blame how the 49ers are on their third long snapper before Kyle Nelson’s suspension is lifted in two more games.

“I have to step up and do my job. I’ve haven’t been doing that obviously of late,” Gould said. “As disappointing as it is, I’ve been on streaks where I’ve made 30 in a row, and I’ve been on streaks in preseason where I’ve made 118 of 118. My confidence isn’t shook. I just need to find better rhythm and tempo, and trust what I’ve done the last 15 years.”

The most field goals Gould has missed in a season is six, which was the case in his first and final seasons with the Chicago Bears (2005, ’15).

SANTA CLARA, CA – SEPTEMBER 22: San Francisco 49ers’ Raheem Mostert (31) celebrates his first down run with San Francisco 49ers’ Daniel Brunskill (60) against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) 


A former walk-on at San Diego State as a tight end, Daniel Brunskill is in line to make his first NFL start at right tackle in place of Mike McGlinchey, who was to have arthroscopic surgery Thursday on his right knee. The 49ers brought in Brunskill this spring after he played for the San Diego Fleet of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

“The AAF was actually pretty huge for me,” Brunskill said. “It was a good chance to get out there and play more games, play more live situations, get better, work on technique and go against players that have played in the NFL that were really good players.

“People downplayed how well some players were, because there were a lot of high draft picks and guys with a lot of experience.”

In transitioning from a blocking tight end in college to playing on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad in 2007, Brunskill bumped his 6-foot-5 frame up from 260 pounds to 300.

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