Thanks to spending the first three-and-a-half seasons of his NFL career as Rob Gronkowski's teammate, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has firsthand knowledge how special the future Hall of Fame tight end was.
Per Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer, Garoppolo believes 49ers star George Kittle possesses a lot of the same traits that made Gronkowski a force on the football field:
"There are a lot of similarities—on the field and a little bit off the field, too (laughs). George is tremendous. The energy he brings every day, how he goes about his business—he's always having fun while he's doing it. Very similar to Gronk, they both enjoy what they do.
"It makes everything more enjoyable. It's fun to be around, and it's contagious. To have a guy like that makes our team so much closer as well as much better."
Kittle has the same type of playful personality that made Gronkowski such a popular figure in the NFL for nine seasons.
Per Joe Fann of 49ers.com, Kittle is a "hyper-competitive professional athlete who is also a gigantic kid who never seems overly concerned about anything."
Michael Rosenberg of Sports Illustrated wrote prior to Super Bowl XLIX that part of Gronkowski's appeal was that he was "an outsized character who doesn't take himself too seriously."
Those aren't exactly the same thing, but they are close enough to justify Garoppolo's comparison of their personalities.
On the field, Kittle put up Gronkowski-like numbers last year. He broke Gronkowski's NFL record for receiving yards in a single season by a tight end with 1,377. (Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce (1,336) also passed Gronk's 2011 total of 1,327 yards set in 2011.)
With Gronkowski retired, at least for the time being, someone will have to take the mantle as the league's best tight end.
Kittle is in a great position to do just that if he has another excellent 2019 and the 49ers are able to compete for a playoff spot after last year's disappointing 4-12 record.