How 49ers' George Kittle will benefit from offseason yoga sessions with sister

How 49ers' George Kittle will benefit from offseason yoga sessions with sister

SANTA CLARA — Along with speed and strength training, 49ers tight end George Kittle practiced yoga with his sister, Emma, as part of his offseason workout program in Nashville, Tenn.

"I actually hit about three straight weeks of yoga, which was really fun,” Kittle said this week as 49ers training camp opened. “Slightly more flexible. Can’t you tell I’m limber now?”

Kittle believes that increased flexibility could help as a preventative measure in regards to injuries during the season.

“[It's better] the more flexible you can get, because sometimes when you get tackled, you land in awkward positions and stuff like that,” Kittle said. “I have learned that when you’re more flexible, stuff like that doesn’t happen sometimes, where you just kind of tweak something. Hopefully, that will help me to stay healthy.”

While yoga was a new addition to Kittle’s offseason program, he has practiced with his sister for a few years.

“It’s just something that I’ve done in the past that I feel has worked for me,” Kittle said. “My sister is a yoga teacher, so it makes it pretty easy for me. It’s in house.

“I wanted to add something. I don’t like to do the same thing over and over. If you stay the same, you’re not getting better. So I just tried to add something in, and I think that helped me out a little bit.”

“We’ve been doing yoga together since he was a senior at Iowa,” Emma said. “At this point, it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on with his body. Based off how he is feeling in a particular day, we modify our sessions accordingly.”

Emma worked alongside Josh Cuthbert, her brother’s strength coach, and Jeremy Holt, who worked on his speed. With the combined regimen, Emma noticed that after a few weeks, her brother’s flexibility had increased.

“I definitely saw a change in George’s body over our time together in Nashville,” Emma said. “Three weeks is kind of quick to notice a big change in flexibility, but he left for camp saying he felt better than he ever had before.”

“George’s strength and speed coaches were great about including me in their workouts. George’s entire training process was coordinated between the three of us to make sure we maximized our time with him.”

Emma teaches a sports performance variation of yoga, but the challenges for many of her clients are still about them taking their speed down several notches.

“George’s biggest challenge in his yoga practice is probably the same as every other athlete I work with — making time to slow down and be in a relaxed environment,” Emma said. “But one of his skills is being present in everything he does. He’s a pro, so he is always locked in. 

“There are so many benefits for any athlete who incorporates yoga to their training routine. Finding ease in stressful situations is what I focused on with George. We did a lot of breathwork and long prop supported holds. Slowing down movements is a great way to enhance mobility and also target core strength and stability."

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It all sounds like serious work, but the two still enjoyed their time training together.

“He’s still my little brother, so we laugh a lot during our sessions,” Emma said.

Vikings linebackers rip NFL's statement after George Floyd's death


Vikings linebackers rip NFL's statement after George Floyd's death

The NFL's statement in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody drew criticism from around the sports world, with Minnesota Vikings linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr being the latest to condemn the league for its hypocrisy.

Both linebackers sent a series of identical tweets condemning the league's statement and lack of past action and asking for help to enact change.

While the NFL's statement claims it is looking to address the systemic issues together, that flies in the face of their treatment of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 in protest of police brutality against African-Americans. Kaepernick last played in the NFL in 2016. After opting out of his contract with the 49ers, he was not signed by another team and he has alleged that NFL owners conspired to keep him out of the league. Kaepernick settled a collusion lawsuit with the NFL in 2019.

Kaepernick's peaceful protest has received renewed attention in the wake of Floyd's death in police custody as citizens march across the United States to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

Floyd, a 46-year old African-American man died in police custody and citizens filmed Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placing his knee in Floyd's neck for over eight minutes. Floyd told Chauvin and the three other officers who were watching that he couldn't breathe and asked Chauvin to let up, but Chauvin kept his knee pressed into Floyd's neck for over three minutes after he became unconscious. It was later announced Floyd died in police custody. Chauvin was arrested Friday and will be charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other officers have not been arrested but still could face charges.

While the NFL's statement was tone-deaf, several organizations from around the sports world have given thoughtful statements and put their money where their mouth is.

49ers owner Jed York donated $1 million to organizations dedicated to social change.

"We started some social justice work and using that term when Colin started his protest," York told NFL Media's Jim Trotter. "I think we'd always been working in this area but it was clear to label it social justice. ... I think the piece that we missed in 2016, and it's a fairly simple piece, I don't know if anybody actually addressed what the issue was, and we're trying to fight racism in this country.

"I think that's what we need to clearly call out, and you can't defeat something if you can't admit that's actually what you're fighting." 

[RELATED: Jackson insists Kap owed apology by 'fake' NFL]

Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a powerful statement condemning the "murder" of Floyd and has been meeting with officials in Henderson, Nevada to listen, learn and try to be part of positive change.

"If they have something to say, I'll stand beside them," Davis told ESPN. "I won't stand behind them. I'll stand beside them. And if there's something I don't know, I'm happy to listen to them. We've got to find a solution."

Steph Curry, Chris Long and Steve Kerr all have called for white people to get uncomfortable, speak up and be part of the solution. Kerr and Long both spoke on the importance of star white quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers speaking out on the matter. 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman echoed the importance of white quarterbacks speaking up at this moment.

The criticism of the NFL is warranted given their treatment of Kaepernick, Eric Reid and others who knelt to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Kaepernick's protest wasn't accepted by the league as it should have been. His action was born out of the desire to enact change. He not only sacrificed his career (to this point) but he also has donated more than $1 million to organizations fighting for social change. The NFL could have listened, acknowledge and amplified Kaepernick's message. Instead, it chose to do the opposite.

The statement itself was tone-deaf and their inaction in the fight against systemic racism will always be louder than four paragraphs on a tweet.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Javon Kinlaw is rare prospect with 'no weaknesses,' Gil Brandt says

49ers' Javon Kinlaw is rare prospect with 'no weaknesses,' Gil Brandt says

Brandon Aiyuk is the 49ers' first-round pick getting all the love in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 NFL Draft. That's easy to understand. He plays a sexy position and has unreal athletic ability that will fit perfectly in coach Kyle Shanahan's system.

But don't forget about Javon Kinlaw. The former South Carolina defensive tackle was a home run pick for the 49ers at No. 14 overall. At 6-foot-5, 311 pounds, Kinlaw is a physical freak with all the tools to be the next dominant 49ers defensive lineman. Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt believes Kinlaw is a rare prospect who enters the NFL without a blemish on his game.

“He does not have a weakness on a grade that you use to evaluate players with,” Brandt said Sirius XM NFL Radio, via The San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch. “That’s unusual. I mean, Jerry Rice had a weakness (as a prospect) -- he wasn’t a good blocker. Very few guys have no weaknesses at all and, in my estimation, he has no weaknesses at all.”

Kinlaw will be under a lot of pressure immediately as the 49ers need him to help fill the void left by trading DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. The 49ers are primed to win now and their return to the Super Bowl very well could rest on whether or not their defensive front can repeat their dominant season from a year ago.

It will be up to Kinlaw, as well as veterans like D.J. Jones, to help Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford recapture the unit's 2019 dominance.

[RELATED: New 49er Williams excited to block for 'awesome' Jimmy G]

Trading Buckner was a hard decision for the 49ers to stomach. But the rave reviews surrounding Kinlaw should have them excited to see their top pick take the field, knowing that stardom is in his future if everything goes according to plan.

As Brandt noted, very few players enter the league without a hole in their game. Even Derrick Brown, who was drafted at No. 7 by the Carolina Panthers and is seen as the most complete D-line prospect in years, needs to work on his short-area quickness at the next level. Brandt has been doing this for a long time and sees the potential for greatness in Kinlaw.

That bodes well both for the 49ers' 2020 Super Bowl hopes and their long-term future.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]