San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle already likes what he’s seen from rookie quarterback Trey Lance.
Joining NFL Network’s Good Morning Football Tuesday, Kittle gushed over the No. 3 overall pick.
“I think Trey he has all the attributes to be a very special quarterback,” Kittle said. “He’s a freak athlete. I think really one of my favorite things about him right now, just as a rookie is he takes risks. He doesn’t compete all the passes that he throws, but he’s trying to fit it into the small windows. He’s just trying to throw it as hard as he can and get it into that wide receiver going from in to that second window. I think that’s really fun, just to see a guy take those risks.”
Kittle was Jimmy Garoppolo’s biggest backer before the Niners made the bold move to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft to draft Lance. Ahead of the draft, the star tight end noted that he trusted the 49ers brass to make the right move.
The question heading into training camp at the end of July is whether Garoppolo will fend off Lance and retain the starting gig. The Niners have insisted that Jimmy G is the starter as Lance learns from the sideline — at least early in the season. We’ve heard that refrain in the past from other teams. Few follow through very long.
Kittle noted that the dynamic between the veteran and rookie QBs is ideal.
“It was actually great,” Kittle said. “There was a story that came out that Jimmy Garoppolo was one of the first guys to text Trey Lance. That’s just the type of guy Jimmy is. He’s not going to shy away from adversity, shy away from a draft pick. He has a fire lit under him and he’s excited to roll. I think Jimmy, I know coach (Kyle) Shanahan said it, I think I said it, too, I think Jimmy played one of his best OTA balls that I’ve seen out of him. He was just slinging it left and right. So that was fun to see.”
If Garoppolo continues to “sling it,” he might fend off Lance for a spell. With a 49ers roster built for a deep playoff run, any hiccup by the QB — or another bout of injuries — will thrust the rookie into the spotlight.
Of course, if Lance shows up to training camp and balls out in Shanahan’s system and clearly adds an extra element with his legs, the coach might have no choice but to play the young QB.
“I’m excited to see just his progress throughout training camp, and he’s an eager guy that wants to learn,” Kittle noted. “And I know when you’re in the room with coach Shanahan, kinda the mastermind, you’re gonna learn a light. So he’s definitely in the right spot.”
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