George Kittle is one of the most respected players throughout the NFL. Fellow players around the league see his passion with every second he steps on the field. But the 49ers' star tight end says he still hasn't full earned the respect of his head coach, Kyle Shanahan.
"I'm still working on that, I'm still earning it every single day" Kittle said to Jac Collinsworth on "Football Night in America" ahead of the 49ers' Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles on NBC.
As a former fifth-round NFL draft pick, Kittle always has felt the need to prove himself. He believes he first started earning some of Shanahan's respect in a Week 5 26-23 road loss to the Indianapolis Colts back in 2017.
"Rookie year, I had a big game against the Colts where he threw me the ball I think like five times in one drive at the end of the game," Kittle said.
Kittle finished that game with nine targets, seven receptions, 83 yards and one touchdown. His receptions and targets that game wound up being season-highs for him as a rookie. He did have 100 receiving yards in the season finale.
The single-season receiving yards record holder for a tight end believes one of Shanahan's best traits is handing out opportunities and letting players take advantage of them.
"What coach Shanahan does is he gives guys opportunities because he expects them to take advantage of them," Kittle said. "If you take advantage of them, he just gives you more opportunities. That's what he does for our whole team. From me to Deebo to Raheem, Jimmy ... even Nick Mullens.
"When he gives you an opportunity, he expects you to take advantage of it. ... We're just gonna continue to do that so we can get back to the Super Bowl."
Kittle has taken full advantage of his opportunities and now is the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. After missing the previous two games with a sprained knee, he certainly is going to take advantage of his opportunities against the Eagles as he'll be back on the field for the 49ers.