Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ George Kittle breaks down why he loves playing for Kyle Shanahan

Jun 5, 2020 at 7:29 AM--

Kyle Shanahan didn't beat around the bush on Thursday while speaking to reporters about the country's racism problem. The San Francisco 49ers head coach spoke passionately about the topic, all while saying the right things. And, as is always the case with Shanahan, you could tell it was the truth.

Shanahan isn't one to avoid a topic. He will speak his mind, and you will get an honest answer to your question. That's why the media loves talking to the coach and why players love working with him.

49ers tight end George Kittle sat down with Will Compton and Taylor Lewan on the Bussin' with the Boys podcast and was asked what it's like to play for Shanahan.

"Awesome. Kyle, he's the man," Kittle responded. "I love playing for him. I think one of my favorite things about him is, first thing, he just loves football so much. And when you have a guy who loves football, and it's not work for him, it makes it pretty easy to play for the guy.

"He doesn't have to give us a pump-up speech or anything like that. You can just tell how much it means to him."

Kittle has only played for one NFL head coach — Shanahan. The tight end was drafted in Shanahan's and general manager John Lynch's first offseason with the team and is one of the best route-running tight ends with which the head coach has ever worked.

Wait, one of the best?

Kittle shared that his coach told him that he is actually the third- or fourth-best.

"I'm like, 'Who are the second or third guys?'" Kittle said with a smile. "[Shanahan] goes, 'Don't worry about it.'"

Kittle wondered: "Who do I watch, then, to try to get better?"

But it's that honesty that the tight end loves about his coach. You aren't getting anything phony with Shanahan.

"I also like (that) he's just straight up with everybody," Kittle continued. "He doesn't lie. Like, we were 4-12 [in 2018], and he still got up in front of the team and didn't bulls--t us or anything like that. He's like, 'This is why we're not good. This is what we've got to do to be better. We've just got to work harder and practice better.' So he's always straight up with us, and that's what I love about him.

"He's all about the players. He just wants to make sure everyone's bodies are healthy (and) ready to roll in each game."

Just a note, in case you watch the full interview: The actual podcast was recorded sometime after the Super Bowl and probably before the COVID-19 pandemic forced social distancing. The trio (along with George Kittle's father, Bruce, who was also a guest) wasn't yet sure if Joe Staley would retire and didn't seem to know where Tom Brady would land in free agency.

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