Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ George Kittle learning to be a better leader, knows Jimmy Garoppolo is hungry to prove himself

May 15, 2020 at 9:21 AM--

Tight end George Kittle has repeatedly praised quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for being a great leader for the San Francisco 49ers. The quarterback may have his doubters, but Kittle is not among them.

Kittle joined WEEI in Boston on Thursday and was asked about Garoppolo, who has—fair or not—shouldered at least some of the blame this offseason for the 49ers' fourth-quarter collapse in Super Bowl LIV.

Kittle, for one, can't wait to start catching passes again from his quarterback and does not doubt that San Francisco can get back to the Super Bowl with Garoppolo.

"He's just done such a great job of leading us," Kittle said on the Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show, "whether that's on the field or off the field. He always has the right message for guys. He knows how to get guys locked in and focused. He knows how to challenge people."

The 2019 season was Garoppolo's first full NFL season as a starter, and he helped guide the team to the Super Bowl. The 28-year-old quarterback completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 102.0 through 16 regular-season starts.

Garoppolo has inspired Kittle, who has watched his quarterback show off what an on-field leader looks like since the 49ers traded for him in 2017. It's something that Garoppolo probably picked up in his nearly four years as Tom Brady's understudy in New England.

It's that type of leadership that Kittle is trying to emulate to take some of the pressure off Garoppolo, allowing him to focus on the game.

"A lot of my offseason has been learning how to be a better leader so I can help Jimmy; so he can be our guy," Kittle continued. "So, it's fun to have him on the team because I've never really been around a leader like that, who has that voice.

"And I'm just looking forward to sharing the field with him again because I know he's definitely hungry, and he's got a lot to prove. I just can't wait for everyone to see how good he is."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Kittle below.

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