Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle weighs in on 49ers’ QB situation, says getting Jimmy Garoppolo back will be a ‘huge boost’

Oct 6, 2020 at 1:39 PM--

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle joined KNBR on Tuesday morning, the morning after attending the wedding of his close friend and teammate, wide receiver Trent Taylor. The NFL star was actually in his car, returning to the Santa Clara area during the interview, resulting in some audio drops and a missed exit on the freeway.

The topic of the 49ers quarterback situation came up. Kittle had both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard throwing him the football on Sunday night. By the way, Kittle had a phenomenal night, hauling in 15 passes on 15 targets for 183 yards and a score.

It wasn't as good a night for Mullens, who has been stepping in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Mullens earned the lowest Pro Football Focus grade for a starting quarterback this season based on Sunday night's performance as the visiting Philadelphia Eagles upset the home-team 49ers.

Kittle wasn't playing favorites, despite his close friendship with Beathard.

"I always want to see my teammates play great," Kittle said on the Murph & Mac show. "I have high expectations for all of my quarterbacks, all of my teammates. I do have high expectations of Nick, and I know that he's not happy with his performance.

"Nick plays at a very high level, so that's what I expect of him every single time he touches the field, and I know he expects that of himself. I'm not worried about Nick. I know he's going to bounce back from that just fine. He's an incredible quarterback."

Beathard entered the game for a benched Mullens late in the fourth quarter and nearly engineered a miraculous comeback. He finished the game 14-of-19 for 138 yards in 23 snaps.

"I will say I love playing football with C.J.," Kittle continued. "I'm on year nine with him in my career since my freshman year of college. That's kind of a special bond me and him have. Being able to share the football field with him again, it's always fun and it's a blessing. The fact that I get to catch passes with him for the first time since 2018, it's also awesome.

"I'm so happy for C.J., but I'm also looking forward to seeing how Nick bounces back because that guy can come back through adversity. He's a hell of a player, so I'm not worried about him."

Does Kittle have a preference for who should start this weekend against the Miami Dolphins? It could be Garoppolo, should the starter find his way back onto the practice field this week. Maybe Garoppolo gets an additional week of rest, and Mullens gets another start. Or maybe Beathard gets his first start since 2018.

"All three quarterbacks throw me the ball, so I'm comfortable with whoever Coach Shanahan puts out there," responded Kittle.

That doesn't mean the tight end isn't eager to get Garoppolo back on the field again. The quarterback has a different presence in the huddle. Garoppolo has been recovering from the high-ankle sprain he suffered during Week 2 against the New York Jets.

"I know it's tough for him," Kittle shared. "Our lockers are right across from each other, so we get to chat every single day. I know all he wants to do is be out there and throwing that football and leading this team.

"I will say, the one thing that I've missed about Jimmy is I think he's our best leader. He's got the best voice on this team. Everybody looks to him when he speaks.

"… I know he's eager to be back out there, and as a team, we're looking forward to having him back too. I hope it's this week. If it's not, we've got guys capable of handling it. I know he's eager to be back out there, though."

Kittle was asked to expand a little bit on what Garoppolo's presence means to his teammates, and it's not just the quarterback's ability to get the football into the tight end's hands.

"It's incredible how he can motivate a team and also light a fire under your ass," Kittle explained. "He gets that done, and he's really good at it, and it's natural for him. Everybody on this team respects it.

"Yes, we miss his gunslinging ability, but he's an incredible leader too, and in my opinion, one of our most important leaders. When we get him back, that will definitely be a huge boost for us."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Kittle below.

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