© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers don’t have much at stake pertaining to the current season in Sunday’s finale against the Los Angeles Rams. But there are several milestones, good and bad, within reach for 49ers players and the team as a whole.
George Kittle eyes the single-season tight end yardage record
First, the good stuff. George Kittle’s breakout season could end as the preeminent one for a tight end in NFL history, but he has some work to do.
Through 15 games, Kittle has 79 catches for 1,228 yards and four touchdowns. He is 99 yards shy of Rob Gronkowski’s single-season record of 1,327 yards. In Kittle’s previous game against the Rams, he had five catches for 98 yards.
Kittle isn’t the only tight end within distance of Gronkowski’s record Sunday. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce currently has 1,274 yards, meaning he needs just 53 yards to reach Gronkowski’s mark.
Robbie Gould on the verge of the best two-year stretch for a kicker
Robbie Gould has been near-perfect in his two seasons with the 49ers, connecting on 71 of his 74 attempts through 31 games. The most accurate two-year stretch for a kicker, with at least 45 attempts, belongs to Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, who went 72-76 from 2016 to 2017.
As long as Gould does not miss a kick Sunday — he has missed one all season — he will be the most accurate kicker in a two-year stretch in NFL history.
Nick Mullens needs monster performance to reach Patrick Mahomes’ eight-game yardage record
After seven NFL starts, Nick Mullens is 3-4, with 1,995 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a 63.5 percent completion percentage. Of the NFL quarterbacks with the most yardage through their first eight games, Mullens already ranks seventh.
Here is the list ahead of Mullens:
1. Patrick Mahomes – 2,507
2. Andrew Luck – 2,404
3. Cam Newton – 2,393
4. Marc Bulger – 2,062
5. Marcus Mariota – 2,026
6. Dak Prescott – 2,020
That means Mullens needs just 68 yards to move past Marc Bulger for fourth all-time. Mullens needs 399 yards to move into the No. 3 slot, 409 yards for No. 2, and 512 to pass Patrick Mahomes for No. 1.
Mullens’ 414 yards in Week 13 are the most of his short career.
The 49ers are on pace to have the fewest takeaways in NFL history
Perhaps no statistic encapsulates the 49ers’ defensive struggles more than the team’s seven turnovers on the season. The NFL record for fewest turnovers in a non-strike season is 11, shared among three different teams. Barring an uncharacteristic performance Sunday, that tag is soon to belong to the 2018 49ers.
The 49ers have fallen victim to dropped interceptions and unfortunate bounces this season. But the lack of a pass rush is the most consistent explanation for the lack of takeaways.
Last week, the 49ers actually forced two turnovers. They had not forced any since Oct. 28.
They will need a huge performance Sunday to avoid the wrong side of history.
One other team has completed a non-strike season with no interceptions from its cornerbacks
Out of those seven takeaways, just two of them have been interceptions. And the two players who made those interceptions are strong safeties Antone Exum and Jaquiski Tartt.
That means no 49ers cornerback has intercepted a pass this season. The only time that has been done in a non-strike season was in 2005, when none of the Oakland Raiders’ five interceptions belonged to their cornerbacks.
Of note, Richard Sherman has had at least two interceptions in all seven previous seasons. He’s looking for his first with the 49ers Sunday.