With 49ers struggling, captain George Kittle turns to Joe Staley for advice

During his rookie season with the 49ers, there were times when tight end George Kittle wanted to avoid left tackle Joe Staley.

“My rookie year, I was terrified of Joe Staley,” Kittle said Thursday.

In his fourth season in the NFL, there’s no one Kittle would rather see than Staley. The retired offensive lineman isn’t walking through the doors at Levi’s Stadium anytime soon, but with the 49ers struggling to a 2-3 start through five games, Kittle decided to reach out for advice on what he could do to improve his leadership skills.

“I’m still learning how to be a captain,” Kittle said. “When you’re blessed to have a guy like Joe Staley and Richard Sherman at the mantle for the last couple of years, guys that have seen the ups and downs of an NFL season, they’ve been on every kind of team, winners and losers, they can see how locker rooms work, communication with coaches and relationships. Staley is a guy that I lean on heavily still. I’m trying to learn from Staley.”

After losing in the Super Bowl in February against the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers believed the 2020 season would quickly develop into a redemption tour. Players spoke candidly in the offseason about their desire to return to the biggest stage in sports and hoist a trophy. But after a lackluster start to the year, it seems there’s a much better chance the 49ers miss the playoffs altogether.

The 49ers have been devastated by injuries at quarterback, along the defensive line and in the secondary, but many of the healthy players the team expected to rely on have struggled to live up to expectations. Kittle’s job as a captain is to figure out how to help teammates be accountable for mistakes of the past and to eliminate them in the future.

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“That’s one thing Joe told me and I talked to him after the last game and he said, ‘Look you have to hold people accountable and you have to tell them that you have to hold them to the highest standard because that’s what we’ve done for the last three years is hold guys to an incredibly high standard.’” Kittle said.

Staley was among the most well-respected players throughout the league and was far and away the longest-tenured member of the 49ers when he retired this offseason. Kittle said what made Staley such a revered presence among teammates was his willingness to hold everyone –not just rookies and inexperienced players– accountable on a daily basis.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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