George Kittle Describes Playing For San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan

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It’s been a long road back for San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, who will return to the field Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals after being placed on injured reserve after being out since Week 8 with a broken bone in his right foot.


While discussing his roller-coaster 2020 with me a couple of weeks ago, including reaching the Super Bowl and then spending three weeks in Arizona while the Niners weren’t allowed to play in Santa Clara County, Kittle also described playing for San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan.

“It’s awesome. I have loved every second,” the 27-year-old All-Pro said of playing for Shanahan as a coach and leader. “The amount of stuff he has to deal with as a head coach and being the coordinator calling the plays and making decisions he thinks are good for the team, it’s fun to play with a guy that handles all that. But at the end of the day, all he wants to do is be out on that football field coaching these guys.”

Kittle, in his 4th year out of Iowa, said it’s just really easy to play for someone like Shanahan in part because he sees all the creativity he puts into his work and how every play he designs and calls is used to run and flow into the next one.

“I like to say he’s playing chess while all the other guys are playing checkers, and that’s how I kind of feel when I’m looking at the plays on the board,” Kittle said. “I’m like wow, I don’t understand them, but I’m going to figure them out by Sunday and that’s what I usually do.”


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In six games so far this season, Kittle has 37 receptions for 474 yards and two touchdowns. He went down to Arizona to rehab in hopes to get back on the field this season, to the delight of 49ers and fantasy football fans everywhere.

“It’s fun to be in a room where he says on Wednesday that ‘hey you’re gonna score on this if you don’t trip and fall,’ and it’s happened like three or four times,” Kittle said. “That’s pretty cool for me.”


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