George Kittle’s goal is to get better each season. While the San Francisco 49ers tight end appears to be at the top of his game, he’s constantly looking for ways to improve. Kittle explained some of the things he does make himself more of a force on the football field. One of those things is watching other players, including one active player that doesn’t even play his position.
George Kittle has become one of the NFL’s best tight ends
George Kittle may have been the biggest steal in the 2017 NFL draft. Kittle, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end, played his college football at Iowa. A versatile end who can block and create open space and utilize his pass-catching abilities, Kittle was selected in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers. He has gone on to become a two-time Pro Bowler in his three seasons in the NFL.
Kittle played in 15 games during his rookie season, starting seven of them. As a fifth-round pick, not much was expected early from Kittle, but he still had an impact in his first year. He finished the year with 43 receptions for 515 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Kittle emerged as one of the game’s best tight ends the following season when he had a 1,000-yard receiving year and added five touchdown receptions. He was a major part of the 49ers’ offense when he was targeted 136 times in 2018. He caught 88 passes for a career-high 1,377 yards. In 2019, Kittle reached the 1,000-yard mark again, finishing with 1,053 yards on 85 catches.
Kittle inks huge extension with 49ers
George Kittle was handsomely rewarded with a contract extension after his consecutive Pro Bowl seasons. Last month, Kittle signed a five-year extension with the 49ers worth $75 million. Kittle was in the final year of his rookie deal and was scheduled to make $2.1 million in 2020.
“I love being a 49er and am blessed to have the opportunity to wear red and gold for years to come,” Kittle said in a statement, according to USA Today. “I can’t wait to continue our quest to bring another Super Bowl back to the bay and I want to thank my teammates for their hard work and help in making me be the best teammate, player and man I can be each week. Together we have already accomplished amazing things, but we all know there is still so much more to do.”
The 49ers were ecstatic to lock up their tight end. “George was part of our first draft class and represents as well as anyone the core values we covet in the players we build our team with,” 49ers GM John Lynch said. “His talent and spirit are unique, his will and grit contagious and his production undeniable. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for George and our team with him a part of it.”
Kittle singles out one player he studies to help him get better
George Kittle is a gamer. He’s never satisfied. Kittle just inked a five-year extension with the 49ers that will have him financially set for life. That doesn’t stop him from wanting to get better. According to Nick Wagoner, who covers the 49ers for ESPN, Kittle said he never stops wanting to better himself.
“My whole thing is I just try to get better at one thing every single day,” Kittle said. “Whether that’s conditioning, whether that’s a certain route, the top of that route, my hands in the run game, my hands in pass pro, so I just try to get better at one thing.”
Kittle said there is one player he constantly watches. He’s not a teammate, nor does he play the same position. “I spend a lot of time watching (Green Bay Packers wide receiver) Davante Adams’ releases, just how he approaches the game because I’m split out wide a lot, too. So, I just try to dabble in a little bit of everything and try to learn from the best in the biz.”
Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.