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49ers TE George Kittle looking to improve after record-setting season

George Kittle, 49ers

San Francisco 49ers star George Kittle isn’t satisfied with a breakout season in which be broke the record for receiving yards by a tight end. Instead, he is already thinking of ways he can improve over the offseason, a mindset that coach Kyle Shanahan found a clever way of exploiting.

“Coach Shanahan said that out of he’s ever had, I do a lot of things really, really well,” Kittle told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “But I’m still third [among that group] in route running. So that’s one of the challenges he gave to me. And that’s certainly one thing I’ll focus on this offseason.”

In just his second NFL season, Kittle produced one of the most productive campaigns of any tight end in league history, finishing with 88 catches, five touchdowns, and a record 1,377 receiving yards. His performance is made all the more impressive considering the 49ers’ struggles at quarterback.

The play of franchise signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo was up and down before he was lost with a season-ending injury in Week 3, while neither C.J. Beathard nor Nick Mullens, though impressive for an undrafted rookie, were able to consistently make life easier on their receivers.

The sheen that accompanied Shanahan’s arrival in San Francisco has almost completely worn off following two uninspiring seasons. The 49ers went 6-10 in his first year as a head coach, and 4-12 last season. But, Shanahan has the confidence of ownership, and clearly, as his motivation of Kittle indicates, has a good rapport with the San Francisco locker room.