The San Francisco 49ers tight end has won 2019’s Dwight Stephenson Award. The award is given by PFF to the best player overall in the regular season and it’s not even close:
Kittle just finished the season with the highest overall PFF grade we have ever given to a tight end, and PFF was around for the entirety of Rob Gronkowski’s career. In his day, Gronk obviously put up bigger numbers than Kittle did this year, and Gronk did it for far longer, but PFF’s grades can be seen as a production or efficiency measure, and Kittle was more dominant with his opportunities this year than any other player at the position since we been grading (2006).
It’s safe to say Kittle has been the heart and soul of the 49ers and has supplanted Gronk as the best tight end in football. Sorry, Travis Kelce. I don’t think I’ve seen a tight end more happy to run the ball than Kittle. I’m sure there are other players that want to help the team out and block where appropriate, but Kittle just relishes in it. He hasn’t done much on the stat sheet in the playoffs, but he’s been helping out with good running lanes for Raheem Mostert.
But when he needs to get the ball, you know he’ll make a play. I am beginning to believe more that barrel through New Orleans to finish The Gauntlet might be the play that won the 49ers the Super Bowl. We have one more game left to see, but that statement doesn’t seem so ludicrous now as it does then. Give him the ball and he’ll take five guys with him on a stroll down the field. Give someone else the ball and he’ll go Mr. Plow and take five guys on a ride while the running back has a nice lane to go.
Kittle’s career is just getting started and the 49ers will need to get him wrapped up with an extension pronto. He keeps doing this and he isn’t going to just be the best tight end in football for a year or two, but the 49ers might be producing yet another GOAT.