Kittle is one of the best overall players in the game. He has recorded 264 catches for 3,579 yards and 14 touchdowns during his NFL career and is routinely listed as one of the top two tight ends in the league.
Kittle has seen quite a bit during his four seasons. From playing with a 5-11 team his rookie year to coming within minutes of winning a Super Bowl, the 27-year-old has been on both sides of the spectrum.
The 2020 season was a forgettable one for the Niners. Injuries derailed any hope of returning to the Super Bowl by Week 2, and the team stumbled to a 6-10 finish. Starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo missed 10 starts due to an ankle injury, which prompted general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan to trade up to No. 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft and select North Dakota State product Trey Lance.
Kittle made an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show while in Santa Clara for OTAs and was asked how he found out that San Francisco selected Lance third overall.
“I’m taking off on a plane to go to my bachelor party in Scottsdale, and during the draft, my flight took off as the third pick was announced,” Kittle said to Eisen. “So, I didn’t see it until I could connect to Wi-fi about 30 minutes later.
So, literally, it goes, ‘The pick is in,’ and then they all cut out, and I sat there for 30 minutes, like, ‘Alright, I’m sweaty, and I don’t know what’s going on. Who did we pick? This is stressful. I can’t call anybody.’
“I finally connect to the Wi-fi after it gets to the 10,000 feet, and I was like, ‘Alright, sick. Cool. This is going to be fun.’ But it was, yeah, Trey-Bay-Bay. But that was a stressful 30 minutes for me.”
The tight end has gotten to know Lance during their time together at the team’s facility over the past week. Kittle spoke to the local media earlier in the week and liked what he saw from the rookie during on-field activities.
“He’s got a cannon ... he looks better than a rookie quarterback, which is fun,” Kittle said. “We had our first live day, going against the defense on Monday. He hit a nice roll-out, a deep pass to my rookie tight end, Josh Pederson. It’s not a throw that gets made a lot, and the fact that he did it on his first roll-out was pretty funny. And the fact that he completed it for a touchdown was pretty cool.”
Since the Niners selected Lance, many have questioned what it means for Garoppolo. Kittle has maintained a close relationship with Jimmy G over the years, but despite their friendship, the tight end told Eisen that it is all about business on the field.
“At the end of the day, they’re both my teammates,” Kittle said. “I’m going to be both of their biggest hype-men. The great thing about football is the competition, and that competition is what breeds greatness, and that’s what makes you better football players.
If either one of my QBs, we have five QBs on the roster right now, if any of the five shy away from competition, then they don’t really deserve to be on the football field.
“So, I’m excited about the competition in the room. I’m excited about the competition all over our team because I think we’re pretty deep in some areas.”
The 49ers are well-positioned to be contenders in 2021. The biggest question surrounding the team is how the quarterback situation will play out. Either way, it looks like Kittle is anxious to get things rolling. You can watch a portion of Kittle’s appearance on Rich Eisen’s show below.