YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — George Kittle’s role on the 49ers offense has yet to decline, but if it does, he’s honestly all for more tight ends on the field.
The 49ers started out the season with four tight ends on the roster with Ross Dwelley, Levine Toilolo and rookie Kaden Smith rounding out the group. Still, Kittle saw more playing time, by far, than the rest of the group in Week 1.
Kittle played 61 of the offense’s 67 snaps in Tampa and lead the team in receiving. He finished the day with eight catches for 54 yards and would have had a couple of touchdowns as well, if not for penalties called on the offense.
There’s no doubt that Kittle will always see a fair amount of play in every game because he is effective not only as a receiver but as a run blocker as well. Shanahan explained how important he is to the offense.
“Yeah, it’s always hard when you’ve got a player like Kittle who’s very good in the run game and the pass game,” Shanahan said. “So, it’s always tough. But, you can never have too many tight ends. We use them a lot.
“We have one on the field at all times, sometimes we have two and sometimes we even have three. We think we’ve got four good ones on our roster, we’ve got a fullback, too, who can mix in with that. The more we can take off Kittle’s plate the better, but the more Kittle can do is better also for us. We’re always trying to balance that.”
No matter what happens, Kittle’s attitude remains the same: positive. He sees the benefit of sharing the snaps and while he’d love to best his record-breaking 2018 season, it’s obviously more important for the team to win games.
“You know, I’m going to trust Mr. Lynch and Coach Shanahan and whatever decision they make I’m going to agree with,” Kittle said. “I love having more tight ends in the room because I think tight end is the best position on the football field.”
Kittle is also in it for the long haul. He understands that sharing the work may give his career longevity.
“I love having four tight ends on the team, whether that’s coming in a couple of plays a series, that helps me,” Kittle said. “A tire only has so much tread on it so the more you can help out, the better.”