After only a few days of working with the 49ers’ first-round pick, their All-Pro tight end came away impressed and optimistic. And at this point, one should listen when Kittle starts talking.
George Kittle offered plenty of praise for Trey Lance
George Kittle either is already a big fan of Trey Lance, or the veteran tight end has an excellent poker face.
Loyal 49ers fans should hope it’s the former. According to NBC Sports, Kittle offered plenty of praise for Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, during the team’s offseason workouts.
“He looks better out there than a rookie quarterback. When he’s out there, he’s slinging it.”George Kittle
Kittle told reporters that Lance made him “really excited” at one point during practice. The rookie quarterback connected with Josh Pederson, an undrafted tight end from Louisiana-Monroe, on a play-action pass.
“He found [Pederson] on a far corner on a roll-out which is the last guy you would throw it to on the play,” Kittle recalled. “The fact that he found him on his first-ever roll-out is pretty cool.”
Kittle’s praise for Lance is worth noting given his experience
Kittle chose to take a diplomatic approach regarding the 49ers’ quarterback battle between Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, which proved to be the correct call.
However, don’t immediately dismiss the tight end’s words as him providing the media with a safe answer. The two-time Pro Bowler saw a rookie quarterback firsthand when he and C.J. Beathard, a third-round pick in 2017, entered the NFL together that year.
The 49ers also brought Nick Mullens in as an undrafted rookie that year. Kittle knows rookie quarterbacks, and he knows what makes them tick. If he sees plenty of early positives in Lance, then he’s not just saying that to please the media.
The 49ers surely hope that Kittle’s evaluations aren’t incorrect
The 49ers saw enough in Lance’s future that the team selected him over Alabama’s Mac Jones and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Although Garoppolo is still the favorite to start in Week 1, this team could soon belong to Lance.
When that time comes, and it will, the 49ers should hope their star tight end is correct. Kittle already sees someone who is “better than a rookie quarterback,” and that someone only started one full season at the FCS level in college.
It will be interesting to see when Lance does get his chance behind center. Garropolo has struggled to stay healthy for much of his time in San Francisco, and it is hard to count on him as someone who can start all 16 games. Assuming history repeats and Garropolo finds himself on the sidelines early in the 2021 season, don’t be surprised to see Lance take the field at that point.