SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Removed from a fashionista, San Francisco 49ers tight finish George Kittle is not a lot into utilizing garments to make an announcement. Given his druthers, Kittle would arrive to and depart each sport in a pair of sweatpants and a cutoff sweatshirt.
So far in a profession that is a season and three-quarters deep, Kittle hasn’t gone that far. But.
As a substitute, Kittle makes use of his pregame outfits as a approach to get himself in the correct body of thoughts. An unabashed fan of skilled wrestling — he has a Stone Chilly Steve Austin motion determine prominently displayed in his locker — Kittle’s concept of maintaining with style is altering which wrestling T-shirt he is going to put on from week to week.
“For me, it is all the time type of a mindset,” Kittle mentioned. “Like, I put on the Stone Chilly Steve Austin shirt, which he is simply type of like ‘Screw every little thing, I am going to do no matter I would like to do and I am going to win.’ It simply type of will get me within the mindset for it.”
Regardless of early season success in his primary denims and a T-shirt look, Kittle mentioned his fiancée started pushing him to have extra fashion, suggesting different choices like a button-up shirt with a pleasant pair of denims and a bomber jacket. He tried it earlier than the Week 2 sport towards Detroit however that appeared somewhat too far for Kittle, who lately started compromising by choosing one thing somewhat dressier whereas additionally looking for a theme.
For example, on the day of the Week 12 loss in Tampa, he wore a button up Hawaiian shirt adorned with toucans.
“I won’t put on a swimsuit to each sport as a result of I sweat an excessive amount of,” Kittle mentioned. “I actually like to give you the option to put on only a pair of denims and a pleasant T-shirt. That is enjoyable for me.”
On this, Kittle’s breakout season as one of the league’s greatest tight ends, his outfits bear a putting resemblance to his quarterbacks, which is to say that it doesn’t matter what he wears or who is throwing him the ball, Kittle is getting the job accomplished on the sphere.
By 12 video games, Kittle ranks third amongst tight ends in receptions (62) and receiving yards (893), first in yards after the catch (563) and yards after the catch per reception (9.08) and fourth in yards per catch (14.four). Amongst all cross-catchers, Kittle is 17th in receiving yards and fourth in yards after the catch, trailing solely working backs Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and James White. He additionally has been the image of consistency, posting at least 57 receiving yards in 9 of 12 video games and at least 70 yards in eight of these 12 contests.
With 4 video games left, Kittle is on tempo to put up the most effective statistical season by a decent finish in 49ers historical past. If Kittle can muster 73 receiving yards Sunday towards the Denver Broncos, he’ll cross Vernon Davis’ 965 receiving yards as probably the most by a Niners tight finish. If Kittle can put up 107 receiving yards, he’ll change into the primary 49ers tight finish to attain 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
Though Kittle entered the yr removed from a family title after coming into the league as a fifth-spherical decide in 2017, these paying consideration had been already conscious of what may very well be coming, particularly contemplating Kittle was supposed to get a full season with beginning quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo and Kittle had fast and straightforward chemistry at the top of final season, opening eyes to the potential of the pairing.
However Garoppolo suffered a season-ending ACL harm in Week three, turning the reins over to C.J. Beathard, Kittle’s shut pal and teammate relationship to faculty at Iowa. Beathard dealt with the job for the subsequent 5 video games earlier than a wrist harm compelled Nick Mullens into motion for the previous 4 contests.
Regardless of who has been underneath heart, Kittle has continued to produce.
“Clearly, it hasn’t mattered what quarterback is in there,” Mullens mentioned. “He is been making performs since day one. You may credit score him to that chemistry as a result of it does not matter who is in there. He is going to catch it and step up and make performs.”
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Certainly, Kittle has been unfazed by the sport of musical quarterbacks the Niners have been compelled to play this yr. In three video games with Garoppolo delivering the passes, Kittle averaged 63.7 receiving yards, 4 catches and 16 yards per reception. In 5 video games with Beathard, Kittle averaged 78.6 yards, 5 catches and 15.eight yards per reception. In 4 video games with Mullens, Kittle is averaging 77.three yards, 6.three catches and 12.2 yards per reception.
One may suppose the rotating quarterbacks would make life tough for Kittle, however he says the one variations he sees are within the quantity of contact every quarterback has on his throws, how that quarterback may learn issues and the person preferences every sign-caller may need for throwing sure routes. Most of that may be refined in follow, although Kittle acknowledged that when a change is made it is pretty frequent to spend somewhat further time after follow to run some further routes.
The overriding takeaway: Kittle is changing into the star tight finish the staff envisioned when it drafted him final yr. Though some nagging accidents have slowed him this yr, they have not accrued as they did in 2017. And although Kittle nonetheless has some points with the occasional drop, these have been decreased this season as properly.
“Kittle has been very comparable because the day he obtained right here,” coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned. “His manufacturing has gone up and down to me based mostly off of well being, based mostly off of conditions, how good we’re doing round him. However I believe Kittle has been excellent since he obtained right here. He is step by step gotten higher as a result of he works the correct approach and I believe that’ll proceed all through his profession.”
It doesn’t matter what he wears or who is throwing him the ball.