There’s a lot to prove by the San Francisco 49ers in 2019. Jimmy Garoppolo needs to prove he can play a full season and be that franchise guy, Solomon Thomas needs to prove that No. 3 pick used on him wasn’t a waste, and George Kittle needs to prove that 2018 was no fluke.
For now though, Kittle is on top of the world. Dan Hanzus released his 2019 NFL Superstar Club where he added some players at certain positions while removing players. For instance, he removed Tom Brady at the quarterback position and put in Deshaun Watson.
At tight end, another New England Patriot was removed, Rob Gronkowski, and in his place is George Kittle. Kittle is now the tight end superstar.
John Lynch has a spotty track record as 49ers GM, but his selection of Kittle in the fifth round of the 2017 draft was an unquestioned masterstroke. Kittle set an NFL record with 1,377 receiving yards at the tight end position. Now he enters glorious Year 3 with more reason for optimism. Kittle enjoyed that 88/1,377/5 breakout campaign in a season where he caught passes from three different quarterbacks. Football Gods willing, Jimmy Garoppolo will stay healthy and able in 2019, giving Kittle a potentially elite passer for 16 games. Add in Kittle’s personality -- he’s essentially a WWE babyface -- and the man is an easy addition to The Superstar Club.
There’s one thing that merits being brought up and that’s Kittle’s upcoming year. I do think Kittle will be a dominant tight end in 2019, I don’t think he’ll come near the receiving numbers he had in 2018. In 2018, there was no one to throw to half the time, and Nick Mullens was forcing the ball to Kittle down the stretch. Defenses will catch up at some point, and the 49ers have a lot of new toys to throw the ball to. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has better receiving and touchdown numbers than Kittle in 2019, for much of the same reasons Kittle won’t get as many.
Just because Kittle won’t shatter his record in 2019 doesn’t mean he won’t be the best tight end. His blocking is something that gets overlooked when you look at all his flashy offensive numbers and he will be vital to the running game in that regard. He also can use that 2018 potential to trick defenders into covering him, opening up passing lanes for other players. If you do want to talk about his offensive numbers, his ridiculous YAC means he’s going to be on a highlight reel whenever he gets the ball.
In any case, it’s nice to see Kittle getting respect in things like this since he and Kelce seem to be neck and neck as the league’s ‘S’ class tight ends as I call it. Since the Chiefs have a bit of a more flashier offense (thanks to not getting their starting quarterback injured) Kelce seems like he may be a more popular choice, but Kittle has been getting quite a bit of love.