IOWA CITY, Iowa — Former Iowa TE George Kittle was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the second pick of the fifth round in the 2017 NFL Draft on Saturday, joining former Iowa QB C.J. Beathard in the Bay.
The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Kittle becomes the ninth tight end drafted in the Kirk Ferentz era and the first since C.J. Fiedorowicz was drafted in the third round in 2014.
After starting his career as a 200-pound ‘tweener, Kittle gained nearly 50 pounds to become a full-service tight end. He caught 48 passes for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns during his career, playing in 49 games and starting 17.
He was hobbled after a midseason foot sprain and missed two games as a senior. He was healed in time to participate in the NFL combine and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, ranking third among tight ends and tied for 13th-best all-time at the position. He finished third in the broad jump at 11 feet and was sixth in the vertical jump at 35 inches.
In a post-combine evaluation, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote Kittle “plays in pro-style attack and approaches blocking like an offensive lineman. Comes off the ball with good pad level and strikes with leverage and hands inside opponent’s frame. Blocks with good technique and has footwork to get to reach blocks and combos. Hands are confident and sure with just 1 drop against 48 catches. … Could generate better separation with improved route leverage. Route breaks can be too easy to decipher. Plays fast but seems to be missing separation burst coming out of his breaks.”
Kittle is the son of Bruce Kittle, who started at tackle for the Hawkeyes’ 1981 Rose Bowl team. On his mother’s side, first cousin Henry Krieger-Coble is a tight end with the Denver Broncos (and fellow Iowa alum). Another first cousin, Jess Settles, scored 1,611 points as a forward with Iowa’s basketball program to rank ninth in school history.