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D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle impressed with Trey Lance, calls 49ers rookie a ‘freak athlete’

Jun 10, 2021 at 10:57 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle joined Michael Silver and his daughter, Natalie, on the latest Pass It Down podcast. Of course, the topic of quarterbacks came up. The Niners have Jimmy Garoppolo, who helped guide the team to a Super Bowl just over 16 months ago. But the team also planned for the future, trading up to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State with the No. 3 overall pick.

While Kittle remains loyal to his starting quarterback of the past three and a half seasons, the All-Pro tight end is impressed with his new rookie quarterback.

"He's a freak athlete. It's kind of fun to watch that. It is," Kittle told the Silvers. "He's got a cannon for an arm too. That's fun to watch too. It's a different style of quarterback play, for sure. But at the same time, Kyle Shanahan has a very dense playbook, and he is human. He's the third overall pick, but he is human. But he has the opportunity to be pretty good, though. I like him."

There was some concern from the media surrounding how the addition of a successor to Garoppolo might impact the locker room dynamic. Kittle wants to put those concerns to rest.

"One guy as a rookie doesn't really change the dynamic of a locker room," Kittle explained. "It's more about the vets and the culture that we have established there. We're a family. Whoever we bring in, like I said, we trust Kyle and (general manager) John (Lynch) with the guys that they bring in because I think we have a very strong foundation of guys, and we built it the right way.

"We just kind of welcome everyone that we bring in with open arms because they're going to be part of the San Francisco 49ers family. The more guys you bring in, the better the competition is, and then the better you get every single day."

While the locker room dynamic might not have been impacted by Lance's arrival, what about the quarterback room? Garoppolo isn't just preparing for the upcoming season, but he's also serving as a mentor for Lance. Garoppolo has embraced that role, and Lance is eager to learn from the veteran.

While Shanahan told reporters that Garoppolo was disappointed and a bit angry that the 49ers felt it necessary to draft a quarterback of the future, the veteran isn't dwelling on it. He is treating this offseason like any other. Garoppolo was the first 49ers player to reach out to Lance after the young quarterback heard his name called on draft night.

"He's Jimmy G," Kittle said. "I haven't noticed a difference at all. That's what's been so fun about it. Honestly, it's just been, hey, we just had OTAs. We've been practicing. We've been hanging out. I catch balls from whatever quarterback throws it at me. It's fun to have a good room of four guys, actually, with (Nate) Sudfeld in there, and Josh Rosen. It's just kind of fun out there.

"It's a fun, unique group. I think they're all very different personalities, but like I said, Jimmy's been doing great. He just goes out there and practices and throws the ball. I think he should throw it to me a little bit more but it is what it is."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Kittle below.


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