NFL: 49ers rookie tight end a standout in practice

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

San Francisco’s fifth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft could be a starter in Kyle Shanahan’s offense this year

NFL organized activities and training camps always bring the best out of young players looking to survive the 53-man roster purge.

George Kittle, a fifth-round pick out of Iowa, is reportedly making an early push to not only make the 53-man roster, but to be the 49ers starting tight end. The former Hawkeye receiver caught 10 touchdowns and over 600 yards in his final two years playing Big Ten competition.

San Francisco’s starting tight end Vance McDonald is a holdover from the Chip Kelly regime, which gave him a deal that could run through 2021. Luckily for new General Manager John Lynch, there are several opportunities to void McDonald’s contract without taking a major cap hit.

Following up McDonald on the early depth charts are Blake Bell, Garrett Celek, and Logan Paulson.

49ers reporter Joe Fann says the rookie Kittle is the strongest lock to make the 53-man roster out of all the tight ends already in house.

"Kittle was known for his blocking skills at Iowa, but he’s already shown to have impressive ability as a pass-catcher as well. As I alluded to earlier, I’m eager to see how the competition at tight end unfolds in August."

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Kittle was projected to be a day three pick in the NFL Draft, and was a fourth-round pick in one of our staff mock drafts this past winter.

If Kittle can make a push onto the week one roster, or even the first team offense, time could be limited for Celek and McDonald. Having his former college quarterback C.J. Beathard on the team certainly doesn’t hurt him either.