All-Pro San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle may just be one of the league’s best teammates. Appearing on ESPN’s First Take earlier this week, Kittle went on to discuss what he’s been up to this offseason, and eventually, the subject 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was brought up.
For those unfamiliar, co-host Stephen A. Smith has been one of Garoppolo’s primary critics, bashing Jimmy G. frequently throughout the 2019 season, and again after the 49ers lost Super Bowl LIV.
Thus, when Smith decided to hop aboard the Jimmy Garoppolo Bashing Train when Kittle was a guest on the show, the 49ers superstar tight end was not having any part of it.
George Kittle on Jimmy Garoppolo: ‘He Got Us to the Super Bowl’
When co-host Molly Qerim asked Kittle what he thought of the criticism his quarterback has been receiving after the team’s collapse in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Kittle did not mince words. “That’s wild. You guys can say what you want about Jimmy G. I think he has like, 25 wins as a starter, you know, [went to the] Super Bowl the year after an ACL tear. Fantastic leader. He had a pancake in that Vikings game on a linebacker in that game that was pretty impressive.”
Kittle went on to suggest that the Niners would not have gotten to the Super Bowl without Jimmy G., before Smith started in.
One of Smith’s primary knocks on Garoppolo seems to be that he doesn’t feel that the quarterback stands out enough on this 49ers team. “My position is, you think about four levels of people before you even get to Jimmy G., and that’s rare when you look at a franchise quarterback,” Smith said.
Kittle was quick to jump all over him.
“How is that his fault? That’s not his fault that he’s on a good team with really good football players and a head coach. He got us to the Super Bowl … He goes out there and performs week in and week out … He leads the league in third-down percentage. He won us two games against Arizona. He won us the Rams game at the end of the game. He won a shootout with Drew Brees, who, in my opinion, is one of the best to ever do it. He shows up every single week.”
Kittle then took a solid ‘That’s my quarterback’ stance. “Yeah, guys make bad plays. I’ve had my fair share of bad plays. His are just viewed more because he’s a quarterback, he’s the franchise quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers so people see that more. And he deals with it. He doesn’t shy away from criticism. He had a great conversation after the Super Bowl. He was great with the media. He doesn’t shy away. He’s a leader, through and through, and he’s the leader of this football team.”
Already an excellent blocker, route runner, and pass catcher, Kittle can now add excellent defender to his already impressive resumé. The entire interview with Kittle on First Take can be seen below.