Like nearly all NFL fans, the 49ers' quarterback competition has George Kittle’s full attention.
In the first two practices of OTAs, Kittle took all of his reps with Jimmy Garoppolo, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t paying attention to the new man on campus. The All-Pro tight end has been keeping a watchful eye on Trey Lance and is ready to see the competition unfold between the two signal callers.
Thus far, Kittle has been impressed by the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“I was really excited yesterday, he made an awesome throw on a play action,” Kittle said of Lance on Tuesday. “He found my rookie Josh Pederson on a far corner on a roll-out which is the last guy you would throw it to on the play. The fact that he found him on his first ever roll-out is pretty cool.”
For the 49ers' top tight end, it doesn’t matter who is under center. He will catch the ball regardless of who throws it and continue to make plays. Kittle simply enjoys the heightened level of competition.
Lance is known for his football IQ and so far Kittle is a believer. It has only been a few practices but the rookie hasn’t looked like a deer in the headlights while on the field, according to the tight end.
“He looks better out there than a rookie quarterback,” Kittle said. “When he’s out there, he’s slinging it.”
There are strict NFL rules on how may reps players can participate in during OTAs and coach Kyle Shanahan noted that the amount is about 50 percent of what they have normally been allowed in the past.
With that in mind, film study and classroom work has been of the utmost importance. During the practice open to the media, Lance took a dozen 7-on-7 reps and was under center for only six full 11-on-11 plays.
Shanahan emphasized that he wants to be careful with players coming back, especially after what the club went through last season in regards to all of the soft tissue injures players suffered throughout the 2020 season.
Without much time on the field, Kittle already sees the progress from Lance.
“Just seeing him out there, trying to figure it out,” Kittle said. “I like watching guys compete and if you can pick up this offense as a rookie and be able to analyze it and throw it to the right guy, and at the same time overcome coaching to make a play, it’s impressive. So I just can’t wait to see what these next OTA days give Trey and continue to allow him to move forward.”