George Kittle

What Kittle learned from Kelce, Gronk while fundraising at TEU

NBC Universal, Inc.

NASHVILLE — George Kittle’s Tight End University was a huge success for the 49ers All-Pro as both a learning opportunity and chance to fundraise for several charities.

All players in attendance benefitted from the teachings of Kittle, who shared advice and techniques on run blocking, and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who focused on route running. NFL alumni Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed also took part in teaching moments at the two-day event.

"The classroom discussions were awesome,” Kittle told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday afternoon. “Got to learn a lot watching Travis Kelce talk about the way he runs routes, Jordan Reed talking about his releases, and showing practice tape of him just cooking dudes was really fun to see.

“I always like talking about outside-zone run game because it usually peaks a lot of questions, because not a lot of guys are coached on it.”

The third annual Nashville gathering also raised funds for several charities, including Bridgestone Kids, which invited several children to participate in activities on the Vanderbilt football practice field where the event was held.

After their own sessions had ended for the day, players interacted on the field with children in attendance who were involved with the organization.

“We got to give back to Bridgestone Kids,” Kittle said. “I think we ended up donating close to $80,000 with Bridgestone and another company. All the money that we make from our sponsors here, we split that between me, Travis and Greg, and we donate that back to our favorite foundations or charities -- Iowa children hospital, Travis’ 87 & Running, and Greg has one for his son and kids with heart problems.

“It’s fun being able to put on something like this and see everybody, see everybody engage, learn, communicate and ultimately give back at the end.” 

Kittle constantly is striving to improve his play on the field, and putting together the tight end gathering felt like a way for him to do just that. The sharing of information was done selflessly, while wanting to bring awareness to the position that is involved in nearly every aspect of an NFL offensive scheme.

“Every time I listen to Travis talk about the way he runs routes, I learn something,” Kittle said.  “Every time I listen to Greg Olsen talk about how he played for 14 years, I learn something. Gronk was here yesterday, and he just talked about mindset.

“It was just fun to hear because his intent every single day of practice, or working with Tom Brady after practice -- his intent is to be great. And if you don’t have that mindset, you’ll never be great.”

Kittle has vowed to keep the lines of communication open across the league with his fellow tight ends. The seven-year veteran hopes to TEU remains a recurring event that continues to draw in players, including quarterbacks that enjoy the chance to get in more more work during the offseason.

“Just hearing other people with similar thoughts, but you’re still learning things, it makes me feel like I’m not crazy all the time, so I enjoy that,” Kittle said. “It’s such fantastic event to be able to bounce ideas off each other and just learn.” 

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