San Francisco 49ers rookie TE George Kittle has already left a strong impression in his short time in the NFL. The former Iowa star should continue to make strong plays for the 49ers throughout the 2017 season.
Here’s what you need to know about Kittle.
1. George Kittle made 5 catches in his NFL regular-season debut in Week 1
Kittle didn’t waste time in getting started with his pro career. After a strong preseason, Kittle was impressive in the San Francisco 49ers’ 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Kittle caught 5 passes for 27 yards, ranking third on the team in both categories.
2. George Kittle was selected in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft
Iowa TE George Kittle was the No. 9 tight end picked in the most recent NFL draft. Kittle went No. 146 overall in the 5th round, just after Michigan TE Jake Butt. The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Kittle was named by Pro Football Focus as the best all-around tight end in college football going into the 2016 season.
The tight end used a strong NFL combine to gain momentum with scouts before the 2017 NFL Draft. He had the third-best 40-yard dash time at his position and was also third in the broad jump.
3. George Kittle was a college teammate of 49ers QB C.J. Beathard at Iowa
Kittle and Beathard had a strong connection while with the Hawkeyes, with Kittle a trusted target for the quarterback. But the two players did connect for a touchdown in the NFL preseason. In the 49ers’ preseason game against the Denver Broncos, Beathard rolled out and hit Kittle for a 30-yard touchdown.
Kittle actually came to the Hawkeyes as a wide receiver before adding 50 pounds so he could become a tight end.
4. George Kittle played all four seasons with the Iowa Hawkeyes
Kittle made at least one catch in each of his four seasons in Iowa City, Iowa. After quiet 2013 and 2014 seasons, Kittle stepped up the next two years. In 2015, Kittle made 20 catches for 290 yards and 6 touchdowns at the Hawkeyes started 12-0 and played in the Rose Bowl. In his senior season, Kittle had 22 receptions for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Kittle was often Iowa’s most-trusted target during the 2016 season. When leading receiver Matt VandeBerg went down with an injury and missed most of the season, Kittle stepped up.
5. George Kittle’s father, Bruce, also played at Iowa
George Kittle wasn’t the first member of his family to leave his mark on the Iowa football program. His father Bruce also played for the Hawkeyes. A former Iowa offensive lineman, Bruce Kittle played from 1977-1979 and in 1981 for the Hawkeyes. Bruce Kittle was also a co-captain on the 1981 Hawkeyes team that played in the 1982 Rose Bowl.