MIAMI — He can’t wait to see what his father has in store for him this time.
Each Saturday during the season, 49ers tight end George Kittle receives a letter from his father, Bruce. They started out fairly short, sometimes only a page, and have grown exponentially. The letters include Bruce’s take on what he saw from his son in the previous game, some meaningful family photos and some words of encouragement that often are not suitable for family viewing. Often, the letters have a theme and sometimes they include comic book heroes to deliver the message.
The letters started when George was in his sophomore year at Iowa. Bruce was a coach at Oklahoma and noticed how one of the Sooners linebackers, Austin Box, received a letter from his father every week. Box died before his senior year, and Bruce decided this was a special way to honor Box and to stay in touch with his own son.
“My dad being my best friend, I thought it was a great idea, too, because all the lessons I learned from my dad over the years, I get an extra one once a week, which is pretty special,’’ George said. “They went from like one page notes to the NFC Championship was a 10-page typed paper, a bunch of photos in it, he pulled stories from our childhood, about movies we used to watch together, stuff like that, always connected to the game and what I’m going through in life.’’
Up next: A Super Bowl letter.
“I have high expectations for this one coming up,’’ George said.
Geoff Schwartz spent the last two of his seven years in the NFL with the Giants and did not experience much success — the Giants went 6-10 in 2014 and 2015, and injuries limited Schwartz to just 13 starts at guard.
Schwartz was part of a new wave on the offensive line, as the last remnants from the Super Bowl days were gone — replaced by Schwartz, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse. Eli Manning had to break in essentially a brand-new group.
“He could have big-timed us,’’ Schwartz told The Post on Super Bowl LIV Radio Row. “His favorite guys were gone and he tried to build new relationships, and he never treated us less than, or [like], this is my team. We knew it was his team. He could have, but he just didn’t do it.’’
This was a slightly different version of Manning.
“I missed the whole pranking years of Eli, because I was kind of the new offensive line, he was just kind of getting used to us,’’ Schwartz said. “The confidence he played with, nothing ever worried him. We were down to the Niners in 2015, it’s the only time I think we had a two-minute drive with Eli, and he got in the huddle and was like, ‘We’re winning this.’ I’m like, ‘OK. Sounds good.’ And we did. Larry Donnell caught a touchdown pass to win it.
“His confidence was great and also what I admire about Eli, he never felt like he was better than us. A lot of us those teams didn’t have the Super Bowl rings that he had. In fact none of has did. He never acted bigger than us. Never did. He never flaunted those in our face. I always appreciated that about Eli.’’
Following his team’s final practice of the week — a 50-minute walk-through — 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said, “We’re as ready as we can be. We just need the game to get here. It’s been two weeks of [practice], and we are itching to go.”
The 49ers are healthy, as no player carries an injury destination into the game. LB Kwon Alexander, RB Tevin Coleman and S Jaquiski Tartt — all limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday — are “full go” for the game, Shanahan said.
For more on Super Bowl 2020, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast: