Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports



The day before tight end George Kittle was selected by San Francisco in the 2017 NFL Draft, his college teammate and friend at Iowa, quarterback C.J. Beathard, became one of the newest members of the 49ers family. After agonizing through the first two days of the draft, Kittle finally got the call from the 49ers on Day Three and had the added benefit of already knowing someone on the team.

"My heart was beating really fast," Kittle said in April while describing what it was like when the 49ers came calling. "Hands were shaking a little bit. I had the number – I didn't have it saved – but that number called me before. Hands were shaking. Just everything comes in light. Everything happened that I've been working so hard for. I was just so happy so that's what matters."

49ers fans had to wait a week into the team's preseason to finally see what all the fuss surrounding Kittle was about. The rookie did not play in the 49ers' first exhibition game – a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now, Kittle not only has his first NFL game under his belt but he also managed to come away with a touchdown. As an added bonus, the score came courtesy of the friend who he accompanied to the pro level.

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Beathard entered Saturday's game against the Denver Broncos late in the second quarter. It wasn't until the start of the third quarter that Beathard led a quick three-play drive that ended in Kittle's first touchdown. On a play action, Beathard rolled slightly to the left and found Kittle in the flat. Kittle took the football and rumbled down the sideline for a score.

"It was tough to get anyone in rhythm," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said following the game. "It seems like Kittle made a hell of a play down the sidelines. I lost it at the end so I didn't see exactly how he finished it."

On Thursday, Kittle joined the "Fitz & Brooks" show on KNBR and discussed what it is like to finally get healthy enough to play in his first preseason game.

"It was truly difficult because you have good OTAs, you want to come back full stride, keep making plays so they can count on you," Kittle said. "It's just something that you've got to work through. You've got to stay positive. You've got to take a lot of mental reps. And then you've just got to take advantage of when you are healthy and take advantage of every single opportunity that they do give you.

"It was really nice that they limited my reps. I might not have been 100-percent healthy but I could do some things and so that was really helpful."

Kittle went on to say that staying positive also helped in the process of getting to the point where he could contribute on the football field. He went on to explain how much work it takes to learn Kyle Shanahan's complex offense and how Beathard has helped him in the process.

"There's just so many little details that you have to know," Kittle explained. "You have to know the ins and outs of, really, every position because every formation could put you in a different spot, but it's the same play called. So you've got to know if you're at this spot or this spot, what you have at the same play call. So, it's a lot of studying, just quizzing each other.

"Really, having C.J. is a big help because he knows what everybody has and he can quiz me or I can help him out as much as I can. He knows more than me but, still, it's really helpful."

You can listen to the entire interview with Kittle on KNBR.

Kittle's next opportunity to prove his worth will come on Sunday when the 49ers travel to U.S. Bank Stadium for a game against the Minnesota Vikings.