The San Francisco 49ers dealt with a ridiculous amount of injuries last season. The team lost several key players early in the season and never recovered on the way to a 6-10 season.
One of the players that got hurt in Week 1 is superstar tight end, George Kittle. The 27-year-old played in eight games last season and caught 48 passes for 634 yards and two touchdowns.
Even though Kittle missed half the year, Pro Football Focus still has him graded as the second-best player in the NFL over the past two seasons. The one player graded higher than Kittle is Los Angeles Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
Highest-graded players since 2019:— PFF (@PFF) February 21, 2021
Aaron Donald - 95.1
George Kittle - 93.7 pic.twitter.com/szFHCDVxuO
In an October 2020 interview, Kittle said he believes Donald is the best player in the game, ahead of teammate Nick Bosa (h/t NBC Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson).
“Aaron Donald,” Kittle said. ”Until proven otherwise. That dude’s been at the top of his game since he’s been in the league. It’s pretty impressive.”
“Bosa, on the other hand, is the second-best football player in the NFL,” Kittle said. ”Being able to go against that every day is pretty insane.”
On top of being a great receiver, Kittle is also arguably the best blocking tight end in football.
PFF gave Kittle an 84.9 grade for the 2020 campaign. He only missed two games during the 2019 season, finishing with 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdown receptions. PFF gave Kittle a 95.0 grade for his efforts in 2019, the highest of any NFL player.
General manager John Lynch signed Kittle to a five-year deal worth $75 million before last season. His cap hit is only $5.4 million for next season before jumping up to $16.1 million for 2022.
Kittle has been one of the leaders on the 49ers since being selected in the fifth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has played in 53 games over the past four seasons, racking up 264 receptions for 3,579 yards and 14 scores.