The San Francisco 49ers had a busy weekend, drafting ten players over the course of last week’s NFL draft. Each player had a conference call with Bay Area media shortly after being selected. They will all report for rookie minicamp this coming weekend, but in the meantime, this is a chance to get to know the players a little better.
The 49ers spent a fifth round pick on Iowa tight end George Kittle. It was a fitting selection considering the 49ers drafted his quarterback, C.J. Beathard two rounds earlier. Kittle and Beathard are good friends who lived together at Iowa. Their connection might have helped Kittle end up on the 49ers. He was involved in Beathard’s workout when the 49ers sent QB coach Rich Scangarello to town last month. That resulted in Kittle going to Santa Clara for a visit the week before the draft. As I previously mentioned, it reminded me a little bit of Dwight Clark ending up on the 49ers roster after Bill Walsh was in town for a workout with his QB roommate, Steve Fuller.
Kittle was extremely excited about the selection, and looks forward to bringing his versatility to the 49ers. He is viewed as a very solid blocker who could work into an h-back role. The 49ers signed Kyle Juszczyk this year, and the free agent addition is expected to be used in a variety of roles. Kittle gives the 49ers another weapon that could be used in a variety of ways as Kyle Shanahan looks to keep opposing defenses off balance.
Here is what Kittle had to say shortly after the pick was announced.
How are you?
“Are you kidding me? This has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. So, I’m pretty, yeah, I’m very happy right now.”
What kind of interaction did you have with the 49ers leading up to this?
“Leading up to this? Let’s see, the first time I talked to them was at, they came, the quarterback’s coach [Rich Scangarello] came to throw [49ers QB] C.J. Beathard and I was running routes for him and then the next day they called me to see if I wanted to come out for a visit and then I visited them last Tuesday and was there all day Wednesday. I had a great time. Great coaches, just great people and a great facility.”
How close are you with C.J.?
“Me and C.J. are great friends. We lived together. I’ve been with him for five years, every single step of the way. I’ve caught every single one of his passes for the past five years. We’re a great combo and I’m just really looking forward to being back on the field with him.”
Was there any thought in your head that you guys might get drafted to the same team?
“A little bit, I mean, when I was in San Francisco the coaches said they had interest in C.J. And so, hearing that I was like, ‘Wow, this could actually happen.’ And, it did. I’m just ecstatic that it happened.”
Do you see similarities with what the 49ers are going to do on offense with what you guys did in Iowa?
“Yeah, I mean, at Iowa I was lucky enough to be part of a pro-style system. I learned from some of the best coaches in the nation as well. For five years, I was in the same offense that moved the ball well. We had a good running attack, decent passing game, so I’m just looking forward to continuing that in San Francisco.”
How would you describe your game and what you’re best at?
“Well, I think my game overall, I think I’m a very versatile player, 250-pounds, I can have my hands in the dirt and I can block anybody that you want me to block. You can move me around, run routes, and do whatever you want me to do. I feel like I can catch the ball well, run routes well. I think that’s my best thing is that I can do, I’m a versatile guy.”
Do you think the numbers aren’t really reflective of your game, particularly as a pass catcher?
“I mean, there were times when they asked me to run block so that’s what I did. If they wanted me to run two routes a game and block for the rest of them, that’s what I did. You know, I put my team before anything that I wanted to do. So, I’m a person that could care less about stats. I just care about winning games and I love the game of football so it’s pretty easy for me just to go out there and run block if that’s what I need to do.”
You said that you’ve been with C.J. every step of the way. How do you see him just evolving into an NFL quarterback and why do you think he could thrive as one?
“You know, I was blessed to be with C.J. since freshman year and he’s just a guy that, he loves football more than anything, other than maybe his daughter. But, he lives and breathes it. It’s all he cares about. And he is a genius in the film room and on the football field. He knows absolutely everything that everybody’s gonna do. And I think my favorite thing about C.J. is just how much his love and emotion brings everyone else around. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. And, I thought he was a great leader just from the start. I mean, he was a leader when we stepped on campus our freshman year. I mean, he was the first guy that we looked at and he was the guy that we looked at as, the guy was a redshirt sophomore and C.J. came in for a couple games and we had fifth year seniors looking to C.J. to lead us to wins. And that’s just the thing he can do. He’s just a guy that everybody looks up to and he’s just one of the best guys on the field.”
You mentioned your versatility. The 49ers have FB Kyle Juszczyk on their roster. Are you familiar with him at all?
“No, not really. You know, I’m sure he’s a fantastic player, but I mean, I just got drafted so I really don’t know much.”