49ers’ Shanahan Reveals if Drafting Kyle Pitts Was Ever an Idea

Kyle Shanahan

Getty Kyle Shanahan during an August 22 NFL preseason game between the 49ers and Chargers.

Tracing back to March 26 2021, the San Francisco 49ers were one of the more aggressive teams in the NFL Draft — moving into the No. 3 spot of the first round by trading up from No. 12 overall to get their potential franchise game changer.

But for those who followed the 49ers’ draft process, many began wondering if the ‘Niners and head coach Kyle Shanahan would avoid Trey Lance and instead opt for an extra offensive weapon.

That’s when the chatter of Kyle Pitts possibly going to the Bay Area began. Even George Kittle, a star in his own right at the tight end position, said on April 28 that he would’ve liked the idea of Pitts donning the red and gold.

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“Well, see, I like that idea a lot because I think we have four good tight ends on the roster right now,” Kittle told Good Morning Football. “You add Kyle Pitts, all the things that he could do, his versatility, I mean, I’d enjoy running 23 personnel up and down the field. Two backs, three tight ends, spread them out, run the ball down their throats. I’m all for that. I know our (offensive coordinator), Mike McDaniel, would probably love that as well. So, Kyle, if you’re listening, I’m totally OK with that, but whatever they want to do.”

But on Pitts’ end, there was skepticism about a possible future with the 49ers in an April 27 interview with Andrew Siciliano of the NFL Network.

The 49ers instead selected the North Dakota State star Lance on April 29. But Shanahan was asked the burning question from the Bay Area media on Wednesday, December 15: Were the 49ers secretly moving up in the draft to get the Florida Gator standout?

Shanahan Revealed if Pitts Was an Option

Shanahan’s response: Yes, the 49ers discussed Pitts. Indeed, they were aware of the potential size/speed aspect of a towering athletic gem who was once timed at 4.44 in the 40-yard dash — all while carrying 240-pounds in his 6-foot-6 frame.

But the confirmed answer: No, Pitts didn’t top Shanahan or the 49ers’ draft board.

“I can understand why people said that because he is that type of player,” Shanahan told reporters. “But no we moved up knowing we were doing it for a quarterback and that’s what we focused on. But we definitely studied him too and I can see why people said that.”

Were There Thoughts of Not Trading up?

There was a follow-up for Shanahan: When the 49ers sat at No. 12 before swapping with the Miami Dolphins, did the 49ers then start to watch tape of Pitts?

Regardless, Shanahan and the 49ers had a plan in place — and it didn’t involve Pitts.

“We had a plan that we were going to get a quarterback, whether it was at 12 or moving up to do,” Shanahan said. “So we knew if we were at 12 and all the ones we wanted went, he (Pitts) would’ve been a hell of an option, but I don’t think he was falling until then.”

Pitts certainly didn’t fall very far as Shanahan called. The Atlanta Falcons took him right after the ‘Niners selected Lance.

Now, the 7-6 49ers will face a 6-7 Atlanta team featuring the Falcons’ leader in receptions, yardage, average yards per catch and in receiving plays of 20 yards or more on Sunday, December 19 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California in a key NFC battle involving NFC wildcard playoff implications.

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