In an arena where oversized personalities choke out homogenized quotes for waiting writers, the unpredictable isn’t for everyone, but San Francisco’s George Kittle often brings a breath of fresh air between the most stale soundbites.
While he may actually want to “take every game as it comes,” recalling that the NFL season is “a marathon, not a sprint.”
Kittle rarely settles for the ordinary, whether it’s in humorous tees – including one famously depicting a topless Jimmy Garoppolo – in front of a media room looking for clickbait, or against QB-hungry pass rushers across the line of scrimmage.
San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle established himself as one of the best tight ends in the league
The six-year veteran, a fifth-round draft selection when the new 49ers era of GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan arrived in the Bay Area, quickly established himself as one of the league’s top tight ends.
He kept close company with Travis Kelce (Chiefs) and Mark Andrews (Ravens), as well as Rob Gronkowski (Patriots/Buccaneers) when he played – and is now an indispensable part of the Niners’ offense as they seek a return to Super Bowl glory.
His looks might suggest a man to be wary of both on and off the field, but Kittle isn’t known as “The People’s Tight End” for nothing – a nickname coined by WWE Legend The Rock , but was gladly adopted by The Faithful.
His looks could indicate a man to be wary of – both on and off the football field
Considerate of others, a willing volunteer and articulate, the 29-year-old Wisconsin native clearly saves his unpleasant streak for the Gridiron, where he’s known as one of – if not the – best blockers in the game.
“Grandma told me two things,” he says of the woman, who finally got to see her grandson in NFL action for the first time after turning 100 ahead of Week 18, which brings Arizona closer.
“First of all, just treat others how you would like to be treated, be kind to people and appreciate them for who they are without judgment. That and just being present in all situations because moments come and go and you don’t want to be aloof and not realize how special a moment is.’
Kittle had many moments to be a part of. From the three high schools he attended in Wisconsin and Oklahoma, to a college career at the University of Iowa that yielded just 48 receptions, 737 yards and 10 touchdowns, to a stint in the pros that included both trebles and has delivered depths. It has led to the current season, which has once again established the 49ers as contenders.
The Niners secured NFC #2 after an impressive 10-game win streak
Kittle, the 29-year-old Wisconsin native who volunteers for charity, with his wife Claire
“We have to cherish this moment that we’re in,” he reiterates in favor of the 2022-23 Niners.
“I went 0-9 as a rookie before finishing strong but didn’t make the playoffs. I went between 4 and 12 in my sophomore year; then had a Super Bowl run but did not win; In 2020 we thought we were great but had so many injuries that we couldn’t win a game and missed the playoffs. then 2021 we won a bunch to get in late but didn’t make it [to the Super Bowl]…’
As well as being a fan favorite, Kittle is a player who is loved in his own dressing room and just as great an admirer of those around him.
His positive reviews of seventh-round rookie QB Brock Purdy have become a staple at press conferences, but the praise is repaid tenfold in recognition of the selfless contribution Kittle — as far from a diva as you can get — to the team and making the wider game .
Kittle’s positive assessments of seventh-round rookie QB Brock Purdy have become a staple
After all, this is the guy who, along with Kelce and the now-retired Greg Olsen, helped start National Tight Ends Day and, as a result, Tight End University (TEU).
Seeing an opportunity not only to increase recognition of their position, but also to work to improve the skills that make them so valuable on offense, the trio began inviting 35 of the NFL’s best players to an offseason camp , only to find it did so to triple earnings — and find larger premises than Kittle’s Nashville estate — only to deal with interest a year later.
“My goal is to bring all these guys together — a lot of them either don’t know each other or haven’t communicated before, and that bothers me,” Kittle explained at the Camp 2021 unveiling.
“Tight end is a position where you have to do everything. So why not bring the world’s best to one place and learn from each other?”
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk rates Kittle’s blocking ability as the best ever among tight ends
The now four-time Pro Bowler is coming off a season in which he was only the sixth tight end to muster over 5,000 receiving yards in his first six seasons while his eight touchdowns — seven of them by Purdy — represent a single. Career highlight of the season.
“I love catching footballs,” he noted during an early-season drought that required his elite blocking — a legacy of his role in Iowa — to shore up holes in a decimated O-Line.
“I love to score goals, but some nights it doesn’t happen. But I’ll be damned if I don’t make an impact in the running game.”
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk rates Kittle’s blocking ability as the best ever among tight ends, and the Niners’ running game certainly benefits from his penchant for panning potential tacklers as part of a multidimensional offense.
Kittle noted defenseman Nick Bosa’s influence on the Niners’ rise in the rankings
“It’s wonderful to block for Elijah Mitchell and for Deebo [Samuel]is an engine for us,” he says of two players who have recently returned from injury.
“Elijah is a running back who goes downhill so fast he makes it really easy for him to block, while Deebo is a train on the tracks with no one getting in the way.
“I’m happy to see him with the ball again because every time he touches it and misses a guy or drags a guy, he definitely sets the tone for our offense.
“When he’s doing stuff like that and all our skill guys are playing at that level, it takes the energy even more!”
And Kittle isn’t just excited about the return of players in the skill positions. He notes the impact defenseman Nick Bosa and his attacking counterpart Trent Williams have had on San Fran’s rise up the rankings – and he’s keen to learn from the big man at the top.
Kittle and his Niners teammates host the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round on Saturday
“When we fly [to games]Trent sits right next to me and I’m always happy to bend over and listen to him approach blocks,” he says of a shared portion of their respective games.
“The amount of tape he’s watching at every single defensive event he’s going to be up against is insane. He’s watching hundreds of cut-ups from every rush they’ve encountered in years, and now he knows, “Okay, that’s his main move, and I know that’s his counter.” Listen to him talk about football and he speaks almost more fluently than English.
With the revamped 49ers roster gradually returning to full health, the playoffs should only make the team stronger, but Kittle is keen to refrain from becoming complacent lest they fall short again.
“The 10-game winning streak is great, but it doesn’t mean anything now,” he explains.
“We’ve secured the two seeds, but everything is boosted a bit. This opportunity we are in now is crazy.
“We have two home games and we have to take advantage of that because we are prepared for success. We just have to execute.”