4 things learned from 49ers actions during 2020 NFL Draft

General Manager John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
General Manager John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
George Kittle #85 and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

No. 3: It’s time to unleash George Kittle

Unleash tight end George Kittle? What does that even entail? You might be asking yourself this, and it’s a fair question. After all, Kittle does have the most receiving yards ever for a tight end through his first three seasons.

If there’s another level for Kittle, he might demolish any future records. But there is, in fact, another level available for Kittle, one that he cannot access on his own.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Kittle and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce has to be the external factors around them. Both players are very talented, but Kelce has the benefit of being part of a plethora of extremely talented set of weapons for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to use. Beyond that, Kelce isn’t tasked with the same blocking assignments Kittle has to deal with.

None of this is to his fault; it’s just their surroundings. That means A) Kelce has more space to operate because teams have to fear other weapons around him and B) Kelce gets to go out on more routes.

Kittle is called in more than once to help pick up blitzes, which he accepts with a smile, but every snap on the line is a snap taken from his routes.

The 49ers must have been aware of this issue. Their best player cannot be used to his full potential in a sub-par situation. So a subtle theme of this draft was to fix that problem.

The selections of Brandon Aiyuk and Tennessee wide receiver Jauan Jennings, albeit with wildly different expectations, both help towards the first issue of diversifying the offense. Kyle Shanahan’s scheme can only go so far; at a certain point, talent needs to be the reason teams alter their coverages.

The other two offensive selections help for the second issue. By selecting offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, the Niners picked a player they expect to help shore up the interior, alleviating some blocking concerns. But their second selection of tight end Charlie Woerner from Georgia perhaps best illustrates this point.

Woerner is a blocking specialist, built like an offensive lineman, and skilled like a fullback. His primary role on the 49ers would be to do the dirty work as a tight end, shoring up run and pass blocking. His addition should help alleviate some of the pressures put upon Kittle.

Will Kittle be free to be a glorified wide receiver? No, and I doubt he’d prefer that to be honest. But making his job easier only makes the Niners better.