In an offseason that saw Jason Witten retire to the Monday Night Football broadcast booth while Antonio Gates awaits a team to sign him and Rob Gronkowski flirts with ending his NFL career, it’s safe to say the tight end position in the NFL is in a state of transition.
With those superstars moving on or close to it, there are a number of vacancies at the head of the class alongside the likes of Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz. While there’s no shortage of options to fill the void, one candidate wouldn’t immediately come to mind when looking at the next wave of tight ends, at least not for those outside of the Bay Area.
But in San Francisco, second-year 49ers tight end George Kittle has quietly emerged as one of the league’s most intriguing tight end prospects. And he’s not shying away from the opportunity to establish himself as one of the best at his position.cheap nfl jerseys china nike
“Obviously I want to be the best as a tight end,” said Kittle. “I get on the field, I feel like it’s an opportunity to show that I can play football and I’m good at my job and I deserve to keep my job. … There’s comparisons everywhere, but if I can go out and show that I’m the best me, and I can ball and prove to myself that I can play really well and prove to Coach [Kyle] Shanahan and my tight end coach that I’m playing well and I’m the best one and they need me, then I’m satisfied.”
Kittle has lofty goals, especially for a fifth-round pick who entered the league with little hype just more than a year ago. Kittle’s high expectations aren’t exclusive to him. In fact, the 49ers have been high on him since they chose him with the 146th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
During his career at Iowa, Kittle never finished with more than 22 catches per season for the run-heavy Hawkeyes. He had just 48 receptions for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns in four years. Iowa’s commitment to the running game, however, helped Kittle establish himself as a stout blocker, but blocking tight ends don’t usually get drafted very high.
Still, Kittle had a strong showing at the NFL scouting combine, where he ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends (4.52 seconds) and had the third-best long jump (11 feet).
In Kittle, Shanahan saw the ideal fit for his offense — a tight end capable of in-line blocking and lining up in a variety of places. Among the many rookies the 49ers brought in last season, none had a bigger workload than Kittle, who was taking starting reps from the moment he arrived.cheap nfl nike jerseys china
Kittle never flinched, despite playing through a high ankle sprain, as well as calf, hip, chest, elbow, back and hamstring ailments.