Tight end George Kittle
Although the hype has been around Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster, mainly due to their draft selection and status in college, the main buzz is being generated by a lesser-known individual. The talk about tight end George Kittle has been substantial thus far. This quote, via KNBR:
"He’s got some suddenness to him in his movements. He catches the ball extremely well… I think George gives us something we don’t have in a playmaker down near the red zone… We feel like George Kittle maybe gives us something where he is that guy, in a one-on-one situation you can flex him out, put him in the middle of the field and he can kind of impose his will and just out-athlete people. That has been extremely positive. We thought that coming in, but he probably exceeded our expectations."
That’s from John Lynch. Quite the ringing endorsement, wouldn’t you say? Combined with the confirmed news that the 49ers were shopping tight end Vance McDonald on the trade block, it looks set that Kittle is the man at tight end for San Francisco in the future.
Even with this growing buzz, the bandwagon needs to be sure to not travel too ferocious, too fast. Either Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley (most likely Hoyer) will be the one throwing to Kittle, and history has shown those two aren’t the most suitable options. Additionally, tight ends haven’t fared too well recently in Shanahan’s offenses — no Shanahan-coached tight end has amassed more than 60 receptions, 700 yards and four touchdowns in a single season the past three years.
Prediction — 45 receptions, 575 yards, 4 touchdowns
These five rookies are the ones most likely to be in the headlines this next season. It’s a new time in San Francisco. The rebuild is on its way. To take from the popular phrase: “Trust the process.”