49ers

How Falcons rookie Pitts has impressed fellow TE Kittle

49ers
Kyle Pitts

SANTA CLARA -- In an NFL draft filled with quarterback storylines, Kyle Pitts might have been the most sure-fire investment in the entire 2021 class. The former Florida tight end had every skill that a modern NFL covets. At 6-foot-6 and 246 pounds, Pitts has the size and speed to play off the line, inside as a slot receiver or even line up out wide. 

That's why it's no surprise to 49ers tight end George Kittle that Pitts is off to a strong start as a rookie after being selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 4 overall pick.

"He's really good at route running, he's got a great feel for space," Kittle said Thursday. "And then when you're that tall and you got arms like that, you can catch about anything that they throw to you. He makes a lot of spectacular plays."

Through 13 games, Pitts has 54 receptions for 770 yards and one touchdown. Kittle played 15 games his rookie year and finished with 43 receptions for 515 yards and two TDs. 

Kittle actually had a chance to work with Pitts over the summer as part of his Tight End University. The 49ers' tight end saw how Von Miller and fellow pass-rushers have their own summit, and the same goes with Lane Johnson and offensive lineman. As Kittle's group of tight ends he trains with grew, he, Travis Kelce and former NFL tight end Greg Olsen created the three-day event that consisted of 49 tight ends, including Pitts. 

The Falcons rookie impressed Kittle during TEU, and the same goes for his film this season. But it's an aspect aside from his pass-catching skills that really has caught Kittle's attention. 

 

"Yeah, it was really fun to work with Kyle Pitts, just to meet him," Kittle said. "You could tell he's a guy that's confident, I like that about him. He knows he's a very good football player who is very humble and I appreciate that. Just watching his tape, I don't watch every single game, but one of the things I do like about him is he might not be the greatest in the run game but he gives effort.

"He gives himself a chance with his first two steps off the ball. I've seen that a couple times whether it's outside zone or something, he's not afraid to put his face in there, which I really appreciate and I like watching that on film."

Is that something that Pitts picked Kittle's brain about during the summit? Well, he didn't exactly get the chance. 

"Sadly he had to leave a day early, so he missed the run-blocking seminar," Kittle said. 

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Ahead of the 2021 draft, some rumors swirled the 49ers might have their eyes on Pitts, even after trading up to No. 3. Kittle even pushed for the tight end to join him in San Francisco. But coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear Wednesday that the plan always was to find a quarterback of the future. 

“I can understand why people said that because he is that type of player, but no, we moved up knowing we were doing it for a quarterback and that's what we focused on," Shanahan said. "But we definitely studied him too and I can see why people said that.”

Pitts isn't exactly the one who got away for Shanahan and the 49ers, but he's sure to be a big part of their game plan come Sunday at Levi's Stadium. 

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