49ers

Kyle Shanahan isn't sure why George Kittle slipped in 2017 NFL Draft

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Kyle Shanahan isn't sure why George Kittle slipped in 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA — 49ers tight end George Kittle wasn’t drafted until the fifth round as the 146th overall pick. He could end up being one of the steals of the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Through nine games, Kittle has caught 41 of his 61 targets for 692 yards and three touchdowns. That puts him on pace for over 1,200 yards for the season. He leads the team in receiving yards by a sizable margin. Pierre Garcon is ranked second with 286 yards. 

Kittle has the most yards after catch of all tight ends in the league with 490 yards. Next best is Chiefs All-Pro Travis Kelce with 335 yards. He is tied overall for tenth in yards per reception in the league at 16.9 and his 692 receiving yards are the 13th most in the league.

Kittle currently holds the record for this season’s longest reception in the league at 82 yards. That catch also stands as the longest score by a tight end in franchise history.

When asked why he went so low in the draft, coach Kyle Shanahan couldn’t explain it. 

“That’s a good question because we didn’t know either,” Shanahan said. “We thought he was going to go somewhere in the third or something like that, was our guess. One thing that, to me, looks like first-round talent, but we had a feeling he was going to fall just in the fact that he didn’t do a lot in the passing game. 

“All we hear about is people talking about him as a run blocker and things like that which is one of the reasons we really liked him. But, the main reason was the pass game. He didn’t get to show that a ton which helped him, we thought, not get noticed in the first couple of rounds. But, we were very surprised he fell to the fifth.”

Kittle was also productive in his rookie year. He caught 43 of his 63 targets for 515 yards and two touchdowns. He has had the benefit of staying healthier in his second season as well as a better understanding of the playbook. 

Kittle also had the benefit of being in a pro-style offense at Iowa which helped ease his adjustment to the NFL. The disadvantage of being at Iowa was their run-first offense which showed Kittle predominately as a blocking tight end. Over his college career he caught 48 passes for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns. 42 of those receptions were in his final two seasons.

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Jimmy Garoppolo 'really good' but not elite, analyst Chris Simms says

Is your quarterback elite? Well, if you're a fan of the 49ers then no -- at least according to Chris Simms.

The NBC Sports football analyst couldn't confidently put Jimmy Garoppolo in the elite category, but still had plenty of praise toward him, especially knowing he plans on leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

"I think there's some quarterbacks in football right now: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes -- they kind of stand alone," Simms said.

After that handful of quarterbacks, Simms highlights a group of "good," a squad that he considers Jimmy G to be a part of. Plus, Garoppolo has a lot of "good" surrounding him.

The elite talents of tight end George Kittle are something that shouldn't be argued -- unless you're not sure if he's a decent blocker or not. Ahem, Doug Gottlieb.

"That's all you need to win a Super Bowl," Simms added.

The consensus around Jimmy G's eliteness is that he's not elite, but he's not bad, but he's good enough.

[RELATED: NFC offensive consultant on Jimmy G's eliteness

Got all of that?

His throwing abilities have been talked about, but once again the word "elite" was not mentioned.

49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

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49ers tackle Joe Staley doesn't have looming retirement on his mind

A lot of times for athletes, it's not up to them whether or not they want to retire -- it's up to their body. For 49ers tackle Joe Staley, it's really no different.

"I like to think that I can continue to play football for as long as they'll have me," Staley said in an interview with 95.7 The Game on Thursday. "And that's my mindset. I've never thought about when an end is going to be."

The 35-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with San Francisco in June which ultimately means he could spend the entirety of his NFL career as a member of the 49ers. And while that seems like a long time, he's still soaking up the everyday grind of his job even with the setbacks he's faced this season.

"The challenges of this season have been different than seasons past," he said. "I love the adverse situations and you kind of learn a lot about yourself -- how you respond and challenge yourself daily with different goals ... "

Staley sustained a fractured left fibula earlier in the season during the Week 2 matchup against the Bengals and with a smile tried to remain positive but admitted: "it sucks." He was emotional after the injury but said that had a lot to do with how special the team was and the guys he was surrounded by.

Still, you can't fake the passion the six-time Pro Bowler brings to the 49ers and it appears you would have to pry the game away from his hands if you anticipate him hanging up his cleats any time soon.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G can enter record books in 49ers-Falcons]

"That love for the game is still there, burning," Staley said.

He finished the statement saying he doesn't have an honest answer as to just how much football is left in his body, but it's not something he's concentrating on at the moment.