49ers' George Kittle demonstrates leadership through effervescent charm

49ers' George Kittle demonstrates leadership through effervescent charm

George Kittle and his wife, Claire, were married this past April, but it wasn’t exactly love at first sight for the couple.

“I was getting on my moped to go to basketball practice and we had a team rule and you had to wear helmets,” Claire told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I had a bright pink, almost like motorcycle helmet with the shield and everything.

“He’s walking to his moped as well, and he looks at me and he goes, ‘Hey, nice helmet.’ 

“And I just look at him and say, 'Thanks,' and then drove off. And I probably gunned it really fast as I was pulling away.”

Not exactly a typical love story, but it is stories like these that demonstrate the effervescent personality that is at the core of who George Kittle really is.

“I think this is something that I've seen more as he's gotten older or more that I recognized that he's really good at being present in any moment,” Kittle’s sister Emma said.

“I remember he was real outgoing, wasn’t shy of anybody,” Kittle’s college and professional teammate C.J. Beathard said. “A lot of guys come in as freshman and they’re kind of reserved and shy, and he was one of the guys going around, you could tell he wasn’t very shy.”

Beathard and Kittle started alongside each other at Iowa for two seasons, and have been teammates since 2012 from Iowa City to the Bay Area.

“He was a really good teammate,” Beathard said. “Always positive, never talked negative to guys. He’s one of those guys that lifted guys up, never really got on guys for doing something wrong.”

“He always had such a big personality and everybody was just kind of drawn to him,” Claire said.

“You could tell I mean, he just he was a joy to be around,” said Greg Nation, Kittle’s high school coach. “He was fun. He was upbeat. Whether it was in the weight room, on the game field, in the hall, it didn't matter. He was just one of those guys. He loved life. Loved being around people and friends.” 

Even in his early days as a prep football player, Kittle evoked all the qualities of a leader on the field.

“You know, he's vocal,” Nation said. “I think his biggest thing for George is, he wears his feelings on his sleeve.”

[RELATED: Kittle's journey from 'scrawny' to elite tight end]

“I guess he loved being part of a team,” Kittle’s mother Jan said. “He always wanted everyone to succeed, and so he was always coaching in a respectful way, not to overstep boundaries with the coach.”

That leadership has translated to the NFL, where Kittle is now one of the most valued players in the locker room, despite being in just his third NFL season.

“He would be the one to make everybody feel better,” Claire said. “Just let a joke pop off in the room and just make that awkwardness go away. He makes everybody laugh. He's very inclusive and he likes literally everyone. So he's just a happy, happy guy doing what he loves.”

NFL offensive coach still not sold on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo long term

NFL offensive coach still not sold on 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo long term

Jimmy Garoppolo balled out in the 49ers' thrilling 48-46 win over the Saints last Sunday.

For the third time this season, Garoppolo threw four touchdown passes in a game.

In guiding the 49ers to an NFC-best 11-2 record, Garoppolo has completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 3,245 yards. He's thrown 25 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions this season.

While Garoppolo's not in the MVP conversation, he's putting up solid numbers as the 49ers continue to rack up wins. But there is one anonymous NFC offensive coach that still hasn't quite bought into Garoppolo.

"I don’t think he can do it consistently, but he did it today," the coach told The Athletic's Mike Sando after the 49ers beat the Saints. "[Drew] Brees moved down the field and scored. That is what you expect. I didn’t know that Garoppolo would be able to do it, but he did it."

Sando noted that in his annual Quarterback Tiers survey, the coach in question had Garoppolo on the second tier in 2017. Last season, after Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in Week 3, the coach moved Garoppolo down to the third tier of NFL quarterbacks.

Whether or not Garoppolo is an elite quarterback is up for debate. NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms feels the 49ers quarterback is "really good," but doesn't consider him elite. But what is for certain is that Garoppolo is not a "third tier" quarterback. He doesn't have the gaudy numbers like Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson or Lamar Jackson, but Garoppolo has a 19-4 career record as a starter in the NFL. That can't be ignored.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch vs. Falcons]

Garoppolo will have another chance to impress the offensive coach Sunday when the 49ers host the Falcons at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

NFL rumors: Terrell Suggs, waived by Cardinals, wants to rejoin Ravens

NFL rumors: Terrell Suggs, waived by Cardinals, wants to rejoin Ravens

When the Arizona Cardinals waived veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs on Friday, 49ers fans instantly wondered if the top team in the NFC would try to claim T-Sizzle.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco believes Suggs would be a fit for the 49ers due to injuries to Ronald Blair, Damontre Moore and Dee Ford.

But you can lower your expectations, 49ers fans.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Saturday, citing league sources, that Suggs would "strongly consider not reporting if a team other than the Baltimore Ravens claims him."

Suggs spent the first 16 years of his NFL career in Baltimore, so it's understandable that the Ravens are the only team he wants to play for.

While it appears Suggs won't be donning a 49ers' uniform, it would still make sense for the 49ers to put in a waiver claim on the 37-year-old.


Assuming Suggs gets through the 30 teams ahead of the 49ers in the waiver order, the 49ers would be wise to try to block the linebacker from going to the Ravens.

After all, the 49ers and Ravens could meet up in Super Bowl LIV, and the last thing San Francisco wants to see is T-Sizzle coming after Jimmy Garoppolo.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch vs. Falcons]

And you never know. Maybe coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch can convince Suggs to play for the 49ers.

Suggs' fate will be decided Monday when teams can put in a waiver claim on him. No matter what happens, the 49ers absolutely should claim him.