A comeback story is already standing out after the 2020 49ers demolition derby.
It’s not Jimmy Garoppolo’s, as healthy as his right ankle is looking for an upcoming showdown with Trey Lance.
It’s not Nick Bosa’s, as dominant as it should be if his reconstructed knee turns out to be ready for training camp.
No, he’s that of a two-time All-Pro, a three-time captain and, remarkably, one of the 49ers’ longest-serving players. It’s George Kittle’s.
“One big thing for me this offseason was the health of the feet, the health of the ankle,” Kittle said after practice Tuesday. “This is one thing that has persisted for me.
“I have a lot of balance beams, which was fun walking on those beams, and I did an obstacle course and did all I can to be so healthy and strong in the areas that have been my weakness. ”
Her upper body seems stacked. These lower body efforts are as smart as they are crucial.
Bring The Full Kittle.
He’s the open-field cowboy who made the tusks look like rodeo barrels en route to All-Pro honors in 2018 (second team) and 2019 (first team).
Last year he fell off the All-Pro and Pro Bowl card, missing half the season with knee and foot injuries. A sprained knee at the start of the season kept him (saved) from the turf at MetLife Stadium for the next two games, where injuries to Bosa, Garoppolo and others doomed the 49ers to their record. 6-10.
A fractured cuboid bone in his left foot sent Kittle off the Seattle turf on November 1, when he hobbled in the locker room alongside Garoppolo (another high ankle sprain). A six-game absence ensued for Kittle, but he returned to play the last two games (11 catches, 160 yards) out of love for the game and the team.
Then came the offseason, and Kittle built himself a practice barn on his new property near Nashville. “I have to put all the toys in there that I wanted, to help me and the guys around me take a step forward,” Kittle said.
This is another key aspect: Kittle’s ability to lead others. Whether it’s welcoming friends and teammates to Nashville – or other NFL cohorts to Tight End University next month there – Kittle is a professional leader and goodwill ambassador. of the 49ers.
As loyal to Garoppolo as he is – they’ve been talking every week this offseason, from the rehab update to setting up X-box play dates – Kittle knows not to alienate Trey Lance. He explained on Tuesday why Lance “looks a little better than a rookie quarterback.”
“Yesterday he had a great shot on an action game,” Kittle recalls. “He found my rookie, Josh Pederson, on a far corner, on a deployment, who’s the last guy you threw, and the fact that he did that on his very first deployment was pretty cool.
Don’t worry, he still feels good for Jimmy G, baby.
“He’s wearing this baby and always has a nice touch,” Kittle added. “And you can never go past that chin line.”
Jimmie Ward (2014), Arik Armstead (2015) and Jaquiski Tartt (2015) are the only 49ers draft picks who outlasted Kittle, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick; DJ Jones came 50 picks later that same April 29. (The only other players since 2017 are the acquisitions of free agents Robbie Gould, Kyle Juszczyk, and K’Waun Williams.)
Longtime allies CJ Beathard (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Trent Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals) are elsewhere, a year after Kittle also lost two other pals, tight ends Garrett Celek (retired) and Levine Toilolo (New York Giants).
Kittle is not the lonely type. He rallies the remaining troops, adding, “The guys are bonded and it’s really important to take that step forward, to be friends.”
THE RADIO WARS OF GAROPPOLO
One day later Garoppolo spoke to 49ers reporters for the first time since Jan.4, it affably hit the Bay Area radio waves on Wednesday, starting with the 49ers’ flagship, the KNBR 680-AM, on Wednesday, before an afternoon hit the 95.7 The Game.
Perhaps the most interesting question was about his relationship with Shanahan, to which Garoppolo told Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game, “That hasn’t changed much. It’s one of those things, we have five quarterbacks in the gym, there’s practice everywhere. Kyle is the same guy everyday and you appreciate him for that. Nothing has changed too much on this road. ”
Garoppolo hasn’t announced any news other than acknowledging that he and the majority of his teammates are vaccinated against COVID, that potential business target Julio Jones is “one hell of a receiver, he really is,” and that Jalen Hurd, often hurt, is as attractive as always.
“Jay has come a long way in his journey by running, building his body and becoming a pro,” Garoppolo said on 95.7 The Game. “I’m dying to get him out. He’s a physical monster and what he can do with his running course and the ball in his hands.
When asked if he would be the starter for the season opener, Garoppolo replied to Bruce, “Oh yeah, come on, you can count on that.”
Garoppolo confirmed how tough last season’s high ankle sprains were for him, adding to KNBR: “I’ve been 100% for a while now. The off season has been good for me. Interesting choice of words given the addition of Lance to this offseason. “As an NFL quarterback, you’d expect that in a way. It is part of the competition in sport. … This is the life we live. I am delighted.
Garoppolo said he still weighs around 225 pounds, but has changed his muscle makeup to help counter injuries. He adapted some of the health methods of former teammate Tom Brady and wryly noted, “Avocado ice cream isn’t that great. I already had it.
General manager John Lynch, on Tuesday’s Cris Collinsworth podcast, revealed that Shanahan was preparing plays for Lance five days before seeing him in person at North Dakota State Recall Day. Get a load of where those X’s and O’s took place – on their private plane back home from Justin Fields’ training in Ohio:
“Kyle’s on his iPad with that iPad pencil and he’s just creaking over there,” Lynch recalls. “And finally he said, ‘Look at this.’ I wondered what he was doing. Well, he was writing stuff with Trey in mind.
“We had just come from Justin Fields and we both agreed his training was fantastic. But that’s where I said, ‘Kyle, man, he’s really totally okay (Lance). The excitement he got, scribbling plays with Trey in mind.
In the two practices the media saw in Lance, Shanahan didn’t unleash any plays or devising leads for the former North Dakota state dual threat, which instead is learning the basics from the playbook and mainly throws short passes.
Rarely does a player stay in one place their entire career like Joe Staley recently did and as Fred Warner now envisions with the 49ers.
“Fred is a guy that I plan to be here forever and who has earned it,” Shanahan said. “I’d be surprised if it didn’t start sooner or later.”
Warner’s response: “Obviously I wanna be a new one for lifealso no? All this will work out in due course. ”
That time will likely be two months away, just before the 49ers put some pads on training camp. Warner made the All-Pro first last year, as did Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts, another member of the 2018 draft class who is also in line for an extension and could set the market for Warner, or vice versa. .