Why 49ers’ George Kittle is defined by more than just his WWE, Panda Express addiction


It is too early to function. The sun isn’t even up, not even close. Garrett Celek, the 49ers’ veteran tight end, barely wills his aching body into his car, his eyes bleary, head foggy. Santa Clara lies completely still on this mid-November morning as Celek’s white Lexus SUV begins to roll forward.

But then up ahead … movement. Tons of movement.

The SUV’s headlights reveal a large man flailing next to the apartment complex’s exit gate. His hips rock back and forth in an apparent attempt at rhythm. His arms swing wildly from side to side. All the while, his gaze remains fixed on Celek’s face.

George Kittle is doing the Fortnite floss dance.

Beaming like he just won the Super Bowl, Kittle hops into the passenger seat and serenades his groggy teammate with some song or another. It doesn’t matter which one. What matters is that Kittle will spend yet another day shining his inextinguishable light upon a 49ers season largely mired in darkness.

“When I was first getting to know him I probably thought it was fake at first how happy he was all the time,” Celek said. “But then I realized, ‘No, this is how this guy is 24/7.’”

Few NFL players have shot out of obscurity the way Kittle has over the past year. A fifth-round pick out of the University of Iowa, Kittle was the ninth tight end selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Since entering the league, he ranks fourth in receiving yards among all tight ends. So far this season, Kittle ranks third in targets (89), catches (62) and receiving yards (893), trailing only the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and the Eagles’ Zach Ertz in those categories.

(Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group) Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Kittle could eclipse 1,000 receiving yards on Sunday against a Denver Broncos team that has surrendered 21 catches to tight ends over their last three games. The 25-year-old’s Pro Bowl-caliber season remains one of the few bright spots for a 49ers squad tied with the Raiders for the league’s worst record (2-10).

Kittle’s sprint toward superstardom counts as a surefire boon for this San Francisco franchise, but that’s not really what teammates and coaches value most about the guy. To understand why Kittle was voted a team captain after his rookie season, you have to go back to the maniac crushing Fortnite dance routines before the crack of dawn.

Meet ‘Stone Cold Kittle’

Everybody around the 49ers organization understands Kittle’s ultimate professional ambition. He talks about it incessantly; studies film whenever he can; obsesses over every not-so-subtle nuance of the sport.

Kittle wants to be a WWE wrestler.

“It’s pretty much the coolest thing in the world,” he said.

Even though he grew up mostly in Iowa, perhaps wrestling’s epicenter in the U.S., Kittle didn’t pay attention to the sport until he got to college, when a buddy started coming over to his place and watching WWE Network while Kittle napped after football practice. Soon enough, he was hooked.

This past April, Kittle attended one week of WrestleMania in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

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