During his college playing days at the University of Iowa, 49ers tight end George Kittle got plenty of experience with the Hawkeyes' zone run offensive scheme, which made him perfectly equipped for what he was about to face in San Francisco when he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kittle already was a few steps ahead of his fellow draftees when he first arrived at 49ers training camp.
“It’s honestly probably the best situation for me to get into because honestly when I got there, obviously the schemes are different, it’s a way different learning curve, but I had basics down because I did it for five years at the University of Iowa,” Kittle said on an episode of “TE1” with Greg Olsen. “So when I stepped on the field for Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniels, their run game -- I was five years ahead of everyone else.”
Once he reached the NFL, Kittle already had the main concepts of Shanahan's offense down.
“If you’re good at the run stuff, then the play-action stuff is super easy, you figure out how to sneak through linebackers, stuff like that, but definitely I thought of it as an advantage,” Kittle said.
Having his college quarterback C.J. Beathard join him with the 49ers certainly has helped Kittle as well.
“I know Coach Shanahan’s offense is a little more diverse and it does a lot more with the motions, and all that stuff, but the basic concepts are the same,” Kittle explained.
Given how infrequently Iowa threw the football during his time there, Kittle got ample experience with run blocking, a skill he has carried over phenomenally to the NFL.
Whatever it was, it worked. Kittle recently signed a five-year, $75 million extension with the 49ers. Thank you very much, Iowa.