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60 Seconds with… San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle

The San Francisco 49ers have come agonisingly close to Super Bowl glory in recent times, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the showpiece game at the end of the 2019 season and falling one step shy in the 2021 and 2022 campaigns, losing in the NFC Championship Game.

The 49ers' consistent ability to compete for NFL honours can be traced back to the fact that they are well-coached by Kyle Shanahan and they are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. One of their offensive stars is George Kittle, who is firmly established as one of the best tight ends in recent NFL history.

The four-time Pro Bowl all star has become an undisputed leader of the 49ers. As he heads into his seventh season in the NFL, it's clear he remains as passionate and excited as the day he entered the league as a fresh-faced rookie out of Iowa in 2017.

Here are our three quick-fire questions with one of the most colourful characters and very best players in the NFL today.

You've been very close to winning the Super Bowl in the last few years. How hungry are you this season?

I've had pretty much the same motivation every year. I walk in this building every day and there's five Super Bowl trophies lined up there. I walk past them every single day. We play the game to win. All the accolades and all that stuff, it is what it is. It's fun. It's fun to be an NFL football player but we play to win. And so yes, I'm very motivated to win. This team is hungry, this team is motivated and it's fun to be a part of an organisation that has won in the past. We had great players then and we have great players now; so yes, we're hungry and we're getting ready to roll

How impressed were you with quarterback Brock Purdy last season and what are you looking forward to from him in 2023?

To step in as a rookie at that time in football where you have to win to get into the playoffs and you have to win to keep the streak hot, it was really impressive. In his first game against Miami Brock got hit with a bunch of cover zero blitz looks and completed all those key throws. That's not easy, by any means. He kept consistently playing at a high level. He gets the ball downfield, he gets the ball out quick, he makes plays with his legs and he doesn't have bad turnovers. He's just a fun player. He controls the huddle and gives you confidence in the huddle. Brock is whatever you would want in a quarterback

The 49ers are going to be in Pittsburgh in Week 1 to take on the Steelers. Do you want to silence that crowd and get everyone to stop waving their Terrible Towels?

I played in Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh in college when I was at Iowa and we played Pitt. We got the win there with C.J. Beathard as our quarterback. This is my first time back there in the NFL and I know it's a fantastic atmosphere. I grew up watching all those awesome AFC playoff games with the Steelers versus the Ravens or versus the Patriots or Colts. That 2008 season when they won the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals, their defense led by Troy Polamalu was on fire that whole season. I would always watch those games and you could see the energy of the crowd. It's such a football community. I love playing in awesome atmospheres and this just seems like it's going be an awesome atmosphere, especially with it being Week 1. Everyone is going to be so full of energy and I hope they wave those towels the whole day. I hope it's the loudest stadium I've ever played in. I have high expectations, but I know they're going to exceed them.