If you’ve watched George Kittle play during the past three years, you’re aware that he’s worth every penny of the $75 million extension he signed Thursday morning with the San Francisco 49ers. Kittle is a rare breed that the NFL has yet to see at tight end. He’s a dominant blocker that never takes plays off, but he’s also an athletic mismatch for anybody trying to guard him. Kittle is faster than most linebackers and safeties, and far too powerful for any cornerback.
Whenever the 49ers needed a play, Kittle came through for them, especially in 2019. Everyone recalls the time he dragged the entire Saints defense on a 4th & 2 that put San Francisco in a position to win the game. Kittle’s big plays tend to break games open for the Niners. We saw it in Week 6 against the Rams and Week 12 against the Packers. When San Francisco needed yards during Week 16 against the Falcons, they relied on Kittle heavily, and he came through with receiving 134 yards. Time and time again, Kittle has come through for this team. That’s before getting into what is arguably Kittle’s best trait, his blocking.
Kittle is a fan favorite, as he’s easy to relate to. Off the field, he’s goofy, fun-loving, light-hearted, and loves to joke. On the field, whenever Kittle is mic’d up, you can hear him giving his teammates a hard time, or talking trash with the opponent. You rarely see a negative side from Kittle. He’s always uplifting, and when his teammate does something bad, usually No. 85 is the first person there with his arm around the player telling him it’s OK.
Kittle isn’t the highest-paid tight end in history because of feel-good stories or for being a jokester. Let’s show Kittle’s worth.
Numbers don’t lie
- When Kittle was on the field, the San Francisco 49ers offense gained an extra yard and a half per carry. The Niners gained 5.0 yards per carry compared to 3.5 yards per carry with Kittle off the field.
- Since 2016, no player has been more efficient as a receiver in a single-season on a per-route basis than George Kittle. In 2019, Kittle had the highest yards per route run in the NFL, even topping names like Michael Thomas.
- Kittle was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. No pass-catcher in that draft class has more receiving yards than Kittle, who has 50 more than Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
- Kittle holds the most receiving yards for a tight end through three seasons at 2,945.
- When the 49ers played the Rams early in the 2019 season, Kittle had more receiving yards (103) than the Rams team combined (78).
- Kittle averaged 9.9 yards after the catch in 2018, which was over a yard more than any other receiver and the highest number since 2010.
- Kittle led all tight ends in broken tackles last season with 27. Kittle all non-running backs in broken tackle rate at 30%, per Football Outsiders. He was 3% higher than the next receiver.
Kittle is dependable, reliable, and the type of player that leads by example. When you have transcendent talent that impacts your organization and community in every possible positive way, you lock that player down. Kudos to the 49ers for taking care of their own.