Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle explains why player-organized practices were important

Jul 9, 2020 at 7:53 PM--

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had been organizing practice sessions with teammates in San Jose, California, and then in Nashville, Tennessee, before the NFL Players Associated (NFLPA) advised against them. His goal was to give teammates a chance to work with each other and better prepare for the challenging season ahead. The 49ers, after all, are coming off a Super Bowl defeat and know opponents will be gunning for them.

The NFLPA wanted the player-organized sessions to end because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a surge in positive tests, including one unidentified 49ers player who tested positive while participating in the Nashville practices.

Despite the bad that came out of the sessions, tight end George Kittle feels there was a lot of good, too. This week, he discussed those Nashville practices with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

"Really, everyone looked good," Kittle said. "That's what was just fun to see. You could tell guys had been working, and that's what you want to see … When everyone showed up, everyone looked good. Everyone was moving fast, catching the ball, communicating well.

"My favorite parts is trying to teach guys the motions of our offense because I think we motion twice as much as any other team. And trying to coach that was really fun and interesting to watch with the rookies."

Not only was it an opportunity for the rookies in attendance, but it was also a chance for everyone to get a jump on the offense installation before the team reconvenes in an official capacity later this month for training camp.

"But I think it was very important for us to get that time together, just install a little bit, because, in Zoom meetings, you can only do so much," Kittle continued. "I think most guys are on-the-field learners. They need to feel it. They need to see it. And we tried our best to replicate a practice. To some extent, you can do that, but you don't have Coach (Kyle) Shanahan there, you don't have (tight ends) Coach (Jon) Embree, you don't have (receivers coach) Wes Welker there. You don't have defenses.

"So I think it was a good start, but we have a long way to go. But I think the foundation that we have put in, and everyone has put in this offseason, will definitely give us a step ahead on some teams."

Kittle and the 49ers hope that will be enough to mount a return to the Super Bowl, which has been the team's focus this offseason.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Kittle below. It begins at about the 9:00 mark.

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