49ers' George Kittle reveals key to going from late pick to All-Pro


George Kittle wasn't a household name coming out of Iowa, but he has blossomed into a star in the NFL.

While some thought Kittle should transition to fullback to make it in the NFL, the 49ers believed in Kittle's potential as a tight end and he has rewarded them in spades.

But how does one go from a fifth-round draft pick to an All-Pro tight end? For Kittle, it was a confluence of simple things that allowed him to become The People's Tight End.

"I think a lot of it was just getting used to the speed in the NFL," Kittle told FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. "Just gaining confidence. The weeks in coach Shanahan's system, being with the team, having leaders like Joe Staley, Garrett Celek, guys that took me under their wing. I was lucky to fall on the type of team I was with. We had great guys on that team and they just kind of helped me reach that level. I learned a lot from them.

"I was trying to be a sponge around Joe Staley as much as I could and other vets. I feel like it all helped out. I feel like I kind of grew into my body a little bit too. I look a lot different than I did my rookie year."

For many star athletes, being a later-round pick would drive their success. Slights, real or perceived, are common motivators in athletics as players try to stay at the top of the game.

But for Kittle, he is unbothered by the fact that went in the fifth round. He understands why his name wasn't atop many draft boards.

"No, hey guys like looking at stats," Kittle told Glazer. "I did not have a lot of production in college. I was hurt a lot in college. I think a lot of teams saw me as a risk and I understand that. But I was just more excited I had an opportunity to play in the NFL."

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Kittle has certainly made the most of his opportunity. He burst onto the scene during his rookie year and then set records during his sophomore campaign.

He has set himself up for a big payday and will be one of the 49ers' franchise cornerstones for years to come.

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