Why 49ers' George Kittle is excited to face Saints All-Pro Cam Jordan

Why 49ers' George Kittle is excited to face Saints All-Pro Cam Jordan

BRADENTON, Fla. — One week after George Kittle squared off against Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon, the 49ers tight end's job doesn’t get any easier as he will face Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. 

While the Ravens' defense did get pressure on 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, they were only able to sack him once. Kittle’s blocking along side the offensive line was part of the reason the Garoppolo stayed off the turf. 

Jordan ranks second in the league with 13.5 sacks behind Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who has tallied 14.5. Kittle, who finds an incredible amount of joy in run blocking, is excited for the challenge. 

“Run blocking I think is mostly effort,” Kittle said. “There’s technique to it whether it’s your hands or your steps but I think me and Mike McGlinchey did a great job all day controlling the edges. 

“When you have a running back running like Raheem [Mostert] did, attacking the aiming point and slashing off the helmet it made it pretty easy on me. So it was a good day to run block.” 

Kittle is very familiar with Jordan as the two stayed in the same hotel while at the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando. He couldn’t be more excited for the challenge of seeing him on the field. 

“Oh, I love Cam Jordan,” Kittle said. “I got to meet him at the Pro Bowl he’s an awesome dude. We were like roommates next to each other in Orlando. Kept in contact with him the whole summer.

“He’s so much fun to watch. He wreaked havoc last Thursday so I’m looking forward to being able to compete with one of the best.”  

After their tough loss in Baltimore, Kittle believes the 49ers are poised for a rebound. He wholeheartedly believes in the mental fortitude of the locker room, and their ability to move forward and focus on the task ahead. 

“You’re either learning from a loss or you’re not,” Kittle said. “I think this team really handled the loss well, bounced back and got through the film. I don’t think we had to do much looking at ourselves in the mirror. I think we are all looking forward to being back on the field.

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“I think we are a pretty good football team. Unfortunately we didn’t get it done last week but this is another opportunity for us to go into someone’s house and try to leave with a win and that’s what our goal is.” 

Kittle is also very well prepared for the noise he and the offense will face at the Superdome. He attended WrestleMania in the venue two years ago and explained how the extra 20,000 fans they packed into the arena is one of the loudest things he has ever experienced. But at least he knows what’s coming.

NFL rumors: 49ers expected to sign Dion Jordan for added D-line depth

NFL rumors: 49ers expected to sign Dion Jordan for added D-line depth

It appears the 49ers will be adding to their defensive line.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that the 49ers are expected to sign defensive end Dion Jordan. 

The 49ers hosted the former No. 3 overall draft pick on Tuesday, and clearly liked what they saw. Jordan, 30, recorded two sacks last season in seven games with the Raiders.

Jordan hasn't lived up to his draft status since the Miami Dolphins selected him in 2013. The former Oregon Duck also has dealt with a long list of off-field issues. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

He was reinstated by the NFL last November after serving a 10-game suspension for Adderall. He also missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and has been suspended several other times as well. 

Between the Dolphins, Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, Jordan has 10.5 career sacks over 50 games.

[RELATED: Why Clowney isn't an option in 49ers' edge-rusher search]

The 49ers' defensive line is a strength, but their pass rush on the outside actually is thin. Nick Bosa is a star, and the same goes for Dee Ford when healthy. Arik Armstead plays defensive end in base situations, though he is more effective working inside as a nickel pass-rusher. And then there's Ronald Blair, who is working back from a torn ACL.

Aside from that group, the 49ers could use some help on the outside. Jordan always has been skilled, and should be worth a gamble for the reigning NFC champions.

49ers' Jerick McKinnon excites Jimmy Garoppolo as pass-catching option

49ers' Jerick McKinnon excites Jimmy Garoppolo as pass-catching option

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has yet to step on the field during a real game with running back Jerick McKinnon.

But he saw enough of McKinnion during offseason workouts to know he can make a huge impact on the 49ers’ offense this season.

“Jet, being a former quarterback, it's kind of a rarity to have a skill-position guy who sees the game like a quarterback still, and Jet does a great job of that,” Garoppolo said.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

McKinnon originally signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2018 when coach Kyle Shanahan hand-picked him because of his pass-catching skills. But McKinnon has yet to play for the club.

He sustained a torn ACL a week before the regular-season opener. He also spent last season on injured reserve after his graft did not heal properly.

McKinnon averaged nearly 500 yards rushing in his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Where McKinnon excels is as a receiver out of the backfield. In 2017, he caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns.

“Even just throwing routes on air this offseason, he runs them differently than most running backs and he has a feel that's like a receiver, but he feels space like a quarterback,” Garoppolo said. “It's very unique and I'm excited to get him back, man.

"It's been a while.”

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Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert figure to be the 49ers’ top running backs on base downs, while McKinnon provides an element as a third-round back they have not had since Shanahan was hired in 2017. Coleman was the 49ers’ top pass-catching running back last season with 21 receptions for 180 yards.

McKinnon agreed to a sizable pay cut this offseason to remain with the club. He has been cleared for full work at the beginning of training camp. With Garoppolo's accuracy, McKinnon's dynamic play-making could provide another huge yards-after-the-catch element to the offense.

“We came in together, me and him when we both signed here, and it's exciting to have him back,” Garoppolo said.