SANTA CLARA -- After only a few weeks of training camp, All-Pro tight end George Kittle already has high praise for 49ers rookie Charlie Woerner.
Compliments from the top tight end in the game are meaningful and Kittle had a lot of them for the Georgia product on Tuesday. He has taken Woerner under his wing and couldn’t be more impressed with his development.
“Charlie, who kind of reminds me of myself, excels at the run game,” Kittle said. “He’s figuring out the pass game stuff. I think he’s farther along than I was as a rookie, especially in the run game.”
With Ross Dwelley sidelined with a foot injury, Woerner quickly has earned playing time with the ones and twos during team drills. Kittle has been impressed with the rookie’s learning curve noting that he has seen progress at each practice.
Like Kittle was at Iowa, Woerner primarily was used as a blocking tight end at Georgia. He caught 34 passes for 376 yards and one touchdown in his four seasons. If Woerner can develop his route-running skills, he could become a valuable piece in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
“He’s a strong dude with some thick hands when he gets them on people,” Kittle said. “Charlie has come a long way fast. It’s really incredible. He’s picking up the offense quickly and knows what he’s good at.”
During Tuesday's practice, Woerner was unable to haul in the ball during his two 1-on-1 reps, but then later had more success in 11-on-11 drills. Woerner caught a Nick Mullens pass while being closely covered by Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles during one play and connected with Jimmy Garoppolo a few plays later.
Along with Woerner's great energy and vibe, Kittle believes the rookie has the right mindset knowing that while he’s progressing each day, there still is a long way to go.
“He’s going to be a really good player for us,” Kittle said. “I’m just excited to watch his evolution.”