San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been developing a solid rapport with his receiving targets, especially second-year tight end George Kittle in recent days.


While there's been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the budding on-field relationship between San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis in training camp, one bit of chemistry not to be overlooked is between Jimmy G and second-year tight end George Kittle.

Kittle's 43 receptions for 515 yards in 2017 set a record. No other tight end, drafted in Round 5 or later in the modern football era, has posted those kinds of numbers before. And if one subscribes to the idea that players make their biggest maturation jumps between years one and two, it's understandable why many think Kittle is in line for a big year in 2018.

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Especially with Garoppolo under center.

"He's one of those guys who puts in a lot of extra work," Garoppolo told reporters Sunday of Kittle's efforts. "Whether it's staying after practice or talking film sessions. He always asks me questions about his routes and stuff like that. That whole tight end group as a whole... we stayed today after practice, just going over some finer, little details that will make a difference on Sunday."

Staying around after practice has become something of a trend for Garoppolo and Co. Last week, Garoppolo primarily worked with Marquise Goodwin and the other wide receivers. On Sunday, it was with Kittle and the tight ends.

"It's kind of what separates you," Garoppolo continued. "Everyone's allowed the same amount of practice time. But whoever stays after, you're getting that little extra work in."

Garoppolo's chemistry with Kittle appears to be working. On Friday, the quarterback connected with Kittle five times, including a 25-yard touchdown grab during the team's red-zone period, according to Niners Wire's Rob Lowder.

Kittle admitted he was a bit overwhelmed his rookie season, but all that appears to have changed in year two.

"My head doesn't feel like it's going to explode every single play," Kittle remarked. "It's more of a reaction, not thinking which, in football, is everything. If you have to think, you're already kind of losing. Once you already know, you hear it and it clicks. ... Now you can read the defense and say, 'hey, I can release like this' to help my guy get open."

That comfort level should bode well for a primarily young 49ers squad, which had more rookie snaps in 2017 than any other team in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

Although it certainly helps having a quarterback like Garoppolo under center.

Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @PeterPanacy on Twitter.