49ers

49ers' George Kittle deserves 'a special contract,' agent believes

49ers' George Kittle deserves 'a special contract,' agent believes

After the best three-season opening for a tight end in NFL history, George Kittle is eligible to receive a new contract from the 49ers before the 2020 season.

It would appear both sides should prioritize a fair contract before the club is allowed to get on the field again. The biggest issue is figuring out what is fair pay for someone who does it all -- but does it at a position that ranks behind only running backs on the NFL pay scale.

“Right now, there is not a comp for George,” Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “He’s unique. He’s a unicorn. He’s one of a kind.”

Kittle, a fifth-round draft pick from Iowa in 2017, has more receiving yards than any tight end through three seasons in NFL history. He is the only tight end in 49ers history with a 1,000-yard season – and he has done it in back-to-back years. He set the league record for tight ends in 2018 with 1,377 yards receiving.

He was named first-team All-Pro in 2019 after catching 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games.

Moreover, Kittle is a dominant blocker in the run game.

“George is a very special player. He needs a special contract,” Bechta said. “And those things take time for both sides. It’s a nice problem for everybody to have.

“At the end of the day, I trust the Niners will do the right thing and take good care of George, as they should. But I trust the process. I won’t comment where we’re at, or numbers or anything like that. But hopefully it gets done.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Tight ends are lagging behind most of the other positions in the NFL pay structure, Bechta points out.

Austin Hooper became the league’s top-paid tight end when the Cleveland Browns signed him to a free-agent deal that pays him $11.5 million this season and averages $10.5 million annually over the life of his four-year contract.

[RELATEDLynch expects Kittle contract extension 'in due time']

Meanwhile, Kittle is scheduled to make $2.133 million this season through the league’s proven performance escalator. Clearly, he is underpaid.

The 49ers have him under contract for the upcoming season. Kittle is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension before then, they could designate him as their franchise player to retain him on a one-year deal. Both sides do not want it to come to that.

“There are smart people at the Niners,” Bechta said. “They’ll figure it out. They love George, and George loves them. And hopefully it’ll all work out.”

Why Warriors could be new Washington NFL team nickname after change

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Why Warriors could be new Washington NFL team nickname after change

After starting a thorough review of its nickname July 3, Washington's NFL franchise announced it has decided on a nickname change Monday.

While the new nickname won't be revealed Monday, it might end up being one that is quite familiar to Bay Area sports fans: the Warriors.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Washington owner Dan Snyder previously has filed to trademark both "Washington Warriors" and "Warriors" multiple times, and The 980's Kevin Sheehan reported on his podcast that the name is the leader in the clubhouse to be the new nickname.

However, Snyder could run into some issues. Snyder owned the rights to any Arena Football League expansion in the Washington area, and was expected to name them the Warriors, but he ultimately abandoned his quest for the trademark.

In April 2019, the trademark office sent Snyder a letter saying he had six months to respond if he still was interested in the Warriors. He did not respond, and by October the trademark office issued a "partial abandonment" ruling, meaning Snyder could only use the trademark for football and not for memorabilia.

Another thing stands in the way of Snyder rebranding the team the Washington Warriors. A 61-year-old man named Martin McCaulay is a trademark squatter, a person who filed for trademarks so that larger corporations eventually will have to pay him for them. McCaulay's trademarks include the Washington Redtailed Hawks, Washington Americans, Washington Federals and Washington Monuments, per The Washington Times. McCaulay filed to trademark "Washington Warriors" in 2015. It now is suspended and under review. McCaulay said Snyder will have to "get in line" if he wants to use it.

[RELATED: Kittle questions how football players can socially distance]

"Warriors" also seem to be a popular choice among fans, with several logo and uniform mockups hitting Twitter in recent weeks.

Washington opened a review of its nickname after Snyder began to face pressure after protests for social justice and racial equality began in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody in May. Snyder previously has said he would sell the team before changing the offensive nickname.

But after FedEx said it would pull all signage from the stadium unless it was changed by 2021, and Nike pulled all gear from the website, it was clear a change was imminent. By the time the franchise announced the nickname was under thorough review, Snyder reportedly already had been in talks with the NFL about a name change, per ESPN.

Ex-49er sees Jamal Adams as next Richard Sherman-type face of NFL

Ex-49er sees Jamal Adams as next Richard Sherman-type face of NFL

During his time in Seattle, Richard Sherman was very visible.

Sherman might have been the villain, but he was the face of a perennial Super Bowl contender. He was the leader of the Legion of Boom.

It's hard for a defensive player to earn the distinction of face of the team or face of the NFL. That honor usually is reserved for quarterbacks.

But is there a young defensive player currently in the NFL that could develop into the face of the NFL? Yes, according to former 49ers practice squad player and current Houston Texans defensive back Michael Thomas.

And that player just happens to be New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who the 49ers have their eyes on.

"I think I want to see defensive players have the same marketability and opportunities as the “faces of the league” as offensive players," Thomas wrote as the guest writer for NBC Sports' Peter King's "Football Morning in America" column. "Richard Sherman is probably the closest thing we have. He built that larger-than-life persona at the height of the Legion of Boom in Seattle and that’s the sort of thing we need.

"The bigger a player like Richard Sherman is, the better it will be for the next generation of defensive superstars, like a Jamal Adams, so that they can continue to grow their marketability and raise their platform."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Adams is unhappy with his current contract situation in New York, and has requested a trade. The Jets still have two years of team control over Adams, so they aren't exactly inclined to trade the All-Pro.

The big difference between Sherman and Adams is that the current 49ers cornerback has a very outgoing personality. For someone who plays in The Big Apple, Adams' persona isn't exactly well known. Can he be the face of the NFL?

Yes, he wants the big contract that comes with being an elite player, but does he want that title of "Face of the NFL?"

"Obviously that persona has to come with performing on the field, and that’s why I think Jamal Adams is probably the next big thing who could fill that outsized role after Richard Sherman," Thomas wrote. "His productivity on the field is there. I don’t know what exactly the hype looks like -- maybe it’s commercials, like Troy Polamalu with the hair, or maybe it’s getting to the point where, like Sherm, he’s big enough to make it on the cover of Madden.

"Whatever it is, I just want that for our defensive players, that shine, visibility and compensation, even if it means leaning in to that role as a villain."

[RELATED: Deebo wants Adams on 49ers]

The good news for Adams is that he's still just 24 years old and is entering his fourth NFL season. He still has time to build his public persona and grow into a potential "Face of the NFL."

And if the 49ers can figure out how to fit Adams' salary onto their roster, he can do it while playing with Sherman.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]