George Kittle Reacts to the 49ers Drafting a Tight End

George Kittle

Getty George Kittle on January 14, 2023 in Santa Clara.

The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2023 NFL Draft looking to add to a strength — a strength already occupied by one All-Pro in George Kittle.

With the perennial Pro Bowl tight end aging and nearing his 30s, this was the draft the 49ers decided to address the TE spot. They did just that taking Cameron Latu of Alabama in round three at No. 101 overall.

Kittle’s response? All it took was one word and an emoji to show his excitement.

Latu Shows Emotions in Being Selected by the 49ers

Surrounded by members of his family, Latu was overcome with emotions in learning his NFL fate.

The excitement for Latu and his family began with one question:

“You ready to do this thing?” was asked to Latu over the phone…which came from 49ers general manager John Lynch.

The GM, now in his seventh draft with the 49ers, then told Latu: “I have a really good feeling about this man. I think you’ll be a great addition to this team.”

Latu Claims Team ‘Stole’ From 49ers

For fans who wonder if Latu will have difficulty adjusting to the 49ers coming from Alabama, there’s this telling nugget he shared with the Bay Area media after he was selected.

“A lot of the run stuff we do at Alabama, we stole from the 49ers,” Latu shared via David Lombardi of The Athletic.

That would mean he’s already familiar with the flow of the offense on misdirection reads and he likely watched how his new teammate Kittle was used as a blocker during film session periods in Tuscaloosa. Lance Zierlein of was one who immediately mentioned Latu’s blocking ability in his overview:

“High-hipped pass-catching tight end with run blocking fortitude to mold. Latu’s lean legs and angular frame aren’t made for drive blocking or neutralizing bigger players, but he does a nice job of sustaining move blocks in space. He changes route speed to open throwing windows over the first two levels. There are some issues with focus drops at times, but he plucks throws with good hand extension when possible. Latu could have roster appeal as an F tight end with an average ceiling.”

Latu was originally projected to be a fifth rounder by He instead goes two draft rounds up and heads to an offense in need of an extra tight end.

Day 3 of Draft Began With Defensive Help

The 49ers closed their first day of when they could make draft picks with Latu. They began their day three of the draft with defensive help.

With no fourth round picks, cornerback Darrell Luter Jr. of South Alabama became the first day three 49ers selection at No. 155 overall. The Niners had been seeking depth in the CB room to join starters Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir plus brief 2021 season starter Ambry Thomas. But the 49ers had to fill spots vacated by Jason Verrett and Dontae Johnson who were unrestricted free agents.

Luter earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference accolades after leading the Jaguars with four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He also included 21 tackles (two behind the line of scrimmage) in 10 starts during the 2021 season.

His 2022 saw 42 tackles, an interception and seven pass breakups — all in 13 starts.

The 49ers weren’t through addressing the defense in the draft’s final day. Georgia defensive end Robert Beal Jr. came next at No. 173 in the fifth. Beal started in eight games for the national champs and went on to deliver 26 tackles in a deep Bulldogs defense. He also busted a strip sack during the SEC title game against LSU.

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