The San Francisco 49ers finally started drafting offensive players in the 4th and 5th rounds, selecting an outstanding run blocking tight end in George Kittle out of Iowa with the 146th overall pick in the 5th round. Based on general manager John Lynch’s comments after the draft, Kittle may be a potential replacement for Vance McDonald down the road.
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George Kittle stands 6’4″ tall and weighs 247 pounds. He caught 22 passes for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2016, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten. According to Pro Football Focus, Kittle earned the nation’s second highest run-blocking grade among a particularly talented TE draft class, only allowing a single quarterback pressure over the past two season combined. Kittle has been compared to NFL tight ends Chris Cooley and Charles Clay.
Despite playing in Iowa’s run first, pro-style offense, Kittle had the seventh-highest yards per route run average over the past two years in the TE draft class. He also has the quickness and speed to render him a versatile receiving threat. His biggest concerns include durability and whether he has the size to block at the next level.
Kyle Shanahan had a lot of success running two and three tight end sets in Atlanta and he might envision Kittle as being paired with Vance McDonald. Following the draft, John Lynch was brutally honest in confirming that Vance McDonald was on the trade block, describing it as part of the nature of the regime change. So while Kittle may not supplant McDonald immediately, one cannot rule out that possibility in the future.