San Francisco 49ers' Kittle Isn't Content With Terrific 2018 Season - NBC Bay Area
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San Francisco 49ers' Kittle Isn't Content With Terrific 2018 Season

Record-setting tight end hopes to learn from Hall of Famer while also following Shanahan's advice to become a better route runner

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    San Francisco 49ers' Kittle Isn't Content With Terrific 2018 Season
    Getty Images
    Niners tight end George Kittle (No. 85) says he wants to become a better route runner in 2019. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    George Kittle had a tremendous, record-breaking season in 2018, but he’s not content.

    This offseason, he’s focused on getting even better in Year 3 of his NFL career.

    The former Iowa standout in his second season with the 49ers, in 2018 set the NFL single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377, on 88 receptions.

    Now, Kittle is hoping some time spent with recently elected Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez will help him improve.

    “Anything I can pick up from a Hall of Fame tight end, a guy that’s going to be there, his film speaks for itself and any piece of advice I could take from him, whether it’s better ways to catch the ball, tips on routes, reading safeties, whatever it could be, I’m going to absorb it like a sponge and hopefully take it with me into OTAs (organized team activities) and next season,” said Kittle a few weeks after the season.

    Also, this week, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has told Kittle he can focus on one big area to improve as a receiver.

    “Coach Shanahan said that out of all the tight ends he’s ever had, I do a lot of things really, really well,” Kittle told Branch. “But I’m still third (among that group) in route running. So that’s one of the challenges he gave to me. And that’s certainly one thing I’ll focus on this offseason.”

    Kittle said that includes being aware of what’s needed from him on every snap, in terms of down and distance, coverage and what the quarterback needs – in the case of a blitz scenario. Kittle believes he can pick up some of that through study of other tight ends. He told Branch the coaching staff is great about sending him video to study on his iPad.

    “I’ll be able to watch their stuff and hopefully pick up a couple things that I can add to my game,” Kittle told Branch.

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