The San Francisco 49ers rookie class gathered in Santa Clara for their minicamp along with about 50 other players who are at the facility on a try out basis. It was an arrival day followed by physicals and a meeting with the media for several players. One of the players who introduced himself to the media was Iowa’s tight end George Kittle, who was drafted in the fifth round, with the 146th overall pick.
Kittle who is very well known for his blocking skills also had the 3rd fastest tight end 40 yard dash time (4.52), bested only by O.J. Howard (4.51) and Evan Engram (4.42). His pass catching abilities may be slightly overshadowed by his blocking ability, but that is what he takes pride in.
If you can’t run block, you don’t play tight end at Iowa. I took a lot of pride in it, a lot of energy and a lot of effort. My favorite quote ever is, “Moving a man from point A to point B against his will is the greatest feeling you’ll ever feel” so I take that to heart and just being able to do that and bury somebody is a pretty good feeling, legally too, which is nice. (laughing) Can’t get arrested for it.
Here’s what he means.
good lord George Kittle that is someone's child: pic.twitter.com/Pvi7fCSNu0— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) March 26, 2017
Kittle is looking forward to having his former roommate and QB C.J. Beathard with him through the process. They started together at Iowa together when they were 18. He says Beathard’s exceptional football smarts help him pick up playbooks quickly which will help accelerate Kittle’s learning curve as well.
Beathard was very complimentary of his roommate’s qualities including why he gets overlooked as a receiver:
I think he’s one of the best, if not the best run blocker that was in the TE draft class. Unfortunately, he had some injuries last year so he didn't get to play every game which was tough on him and me because he's such a tough match up in the pass game as well. He’s a big body guy with great speed so he presents a tough match up for corners or linebackers, who ever lines up against him...He’s a very good route runner, he’s got good hands and he’s got great speed. He’s a tough match up for guys so I think that he’s under-looked at when it comes to the pass game.
Kittle’s football success didn’t happen as quickly as his 40 time. He didn’t play much in his first two seasons at Iowa when he was “stuck” at 225 pounds as opposed to his current 250. He realized that if he really wanted to play, he was going to have to make some major life choices, so he cut out his social life, buckled down, and in the process added 25 pounds to his frame. Explosiveness out of his stance is what Kittle believes helps him gain the power and momentum to block players that outweigh him by 70 pounds.
Beathard describes Kittle’s personality:
He’s a great run blocker and he’s unselfish guy, doesn't care about getting a bunch of yardage. We ran the ball a ton at Iowa and not once was he [saying] ‘We need to throw the ball more.’ He just went out there and put his hand in the dirt and blocked his tail off.
The only thing that the two Hawkeyes had a conflict over was the remote. Kittle is a HUGE Pokemon Go fan and Beathard can’t stand it. Kittle graduated in December and will be available for all offseason activities.