One of the more whispered storylines during the 2018 San Francisco 49ers season is the friendship between tight end George Kittle and quarterback C.J. Beathard. No one on the team knows Beathard better than Kittle, considering the two were teammates at Iowa.
Which, might make things all the more difficult when Kyle Shanahan started moving towards Nick Mullens having the starting role to close the year out rather than Beathard. Friendships and history can always make things difficult. When Colin Kaepernick became the starter over Alex Smith, Smith’s longtime teammate and friend Joe Staley was unhappy about the decision and voiced his displeasure to then-head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Mullens/Beathard decision is a bit different than the Kaepernick/Smith decision since the latter controversy had two quarterbacks playing at a very high level on a football team in contention. Regardless, Kittle could have been in a tough spot seeing a long-time teammate getting sent back to the bench, again. Emotions can always get in the way at times.
Kittle however respects the decision and respects the heck out of Mullens. He was Matt Maiocco’s guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast and when asked about if it was hard to back Mullens when it meant Beathard was on the bench, Kittle answered:
“It’s the NFL, it’s a business. I think the best thing is, C.J. understood that, he had a bad wrist that game, he understands; it’s the NFL. Nick’s playing very, very well. He’s playing at a high level. It’s not hard for me to back guys that are playing better over other players. I love it when a guy takes advantage of an opportunity. I don’t think anyone’s done that better this season than Nick Mullens. He hopped in and just has excelled. What is he? he’s like fourth in the all-time list of most passing yards through six games, and most passing yards ever against the Seahawks in a single season? When your guy take advantage of opportunities that’s the best thing you can ask for. It’s absolutely amazing to see a guy do that.”
The follow up question was if Kittle was surprised at all about Nick Mullens’ success and with no hesitation answered in the negative. In fact, Kittle said Mullens prepares, “More than anyone I’ve seen.”
I’ve timestamped the podcast below. You can listen using the widget above. If it doesn’t appear, click here.
00:41 - Pro Bowl selection
01:51 - Celebrating the victory
02:43 - Biggest recommendation on Netflix/philosophy on storytelling in shows
04:13 - Figuring out the 49ers’ offense
05:00 - John Lynch’s words on Kittle
06:07 - Following his routine/making a checklist
07:16 - Looking to the offseason
09:07 - Playing the game angry
10:45 - Receiving number in college vs. NFL and if Iowa has gotten in touch.
11:31 - Run blocking finesse
13:11 - Working with three different quarterbacks
14:30 - Difficulty in backing Nick Mullens when C.J. Beathard isn’t playing
16:25 - Comparing current year to last year
17:11 - Holding himself to a higher standard and leadership
18:30 - Going to the Pro Bowl