Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle on new 49ers regime: ‘They’re really going to turn that place around’

Apr 30, 2017 at 1:58 PM--

Yesterday, we shared the video of an emotional Jihaad Pretlow, an undrafted free agent defensive back out of Fordham, as he received a phone call from the San Francisco 49ers following the conclusion of the draft. Pretlow was just looking for a shot with an NFL team and the 49ers game him that opportunity.

The storyline was a little different for former Iowa tight end George Kittle. He figured on getting drafted and had numerous teams interested in him. Among those were the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and the 49ers. While at his north Iowa City home, surrounded by family and friends watching the draft, Kittle also got a phone call from the 49ers. Of course, he received it hours before Pretlow got his. The 49ers told him he was going to be selected in the fifth round of the draft. After watching all day Thursday, waiting all day Friday, and then agonizing Saturday morning, Kittle had finally made it to the NFL.

Kittle described the experience of getting the call. "My heart was beating really fast," Kittle said. "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."

Video courtesy of Land of 10

Following the phone call from the 49ers, Kittle disappeared into another room for this conference call with Bay Area media. According to Land of 10, he re-emerged to celebrate with his family and friends while wearing a 49ers hat that he had received during his pre-draft visit.

RELATED Transcript: George Kittle conference call with the media

Kittle caught the eyes of the coaching staff when the 49ers traveled to work out Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard. Kittle ran routes for the quarterback and former teammate, who ended up being selected by the 49ers in the third round of the draft. The 49ers called Kittle the next day to invite him for a visit to Santa Clara. He was among a group of draft prospects who visited the team on April 19 that included LSU running back Leonard Fournette, Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, and Florida cornerback Teez Tabor. Kittle ended up being the only player from that group who was drafted by the 49ers.

"They're really going to turn that place around," Kittle said while describing the experience of visiting the 49ers and meeting with head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. "I mean, you can just be in there and you just felt like, 'Wow, this is a place that's going to change.' These guys, they're the ones that are going to do it so that was awesome, that just whole experience.

"It was nice. I sat down with their tight ends coach [Jon Embree] for a while to watch film. Just really, the whole experience with them was really fun. One of their coaches said, 'This is really the easiest interview for you ever because we're just basically inviting you out here to make sure you weren't crazy.' So I thought that was pretty funny. I enjoyed every interaction that I had with the 49ers."

Kittle said that the 49ers told him that if he was available, they were going to draft him. "They didn't tell me when or how," Kittle said. "I was just excited that they pulled the trigger."

When asked if he had already looked at the team's current tight end situation, Kittle answered, "Not at all. I have no idea. I couldn't care less. I'm just happy to be on the field."

Kittle and Beathard, who spent five years together at Iowa and were roommates, are teammates once again. "We're a great combo and I'm just really looking forward to being back on the field with him," Kittle told the media during a conference call following his selection on Saturday.

"I think he'll help me learn the offense pretty well," Kittle said. "One thing about C.J. is he picks up on stuff really quickly (like) offenses so I'll be able to take stuff from him. We know what he's looking for and stuff. Hopefully, that will help me out in the learning process. I'm just really looking forward to being able to share the field with him again."

For more on the rookie's path to the draft and selection by the 49ers, read the great feature that Scott Dochterman of Land of 10 wrote.

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