49ers

49ers' George Kittle falls short of 99 Madden 21 rating according to leak

49ers' George Kittle falls short of 99 Madden 21 rating according to leak

George Kittle is the best tight end in football, and arguably the best receiver regardless of position. Full stop.

But while the 49ers tight end has become a household name during his three-year NFL career, it appears his exploits haven't been enough to get him into a very select group: The "Madden 99 Club."

Details from Madden 21 slowly have been trickling out, and a potential leak by Twitter user "LeadingNFL" showed which players have been given a 99 overall rating in the latest iteration of the popular video game. While Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Donald and Stephon Gilmore all got the nod, Kittle came up just short in his quest for video-game greatness.

For 49ers fans who care about such things, this should be seen as disrespectful to the league's premier tight end. While Kittle is grouped with star receivers Michael Thomas and De'Andre Hopkins with a 98 rating, a case can be made that he deserves to be a member of the "Madden 99 Club," because of his ability to break tackles and his dominant ability as a run-blocker.

You'll find no arguments from me on any of the four members of the "Madden 99 Club."

Mahomes cemented himself as the best quarterback in the NFL when he erased a 10-point deficit against Kittle and the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. He's an unquestioned 99. As is Donald.

Gilmore was the best cornerback in football last season, and has been as dominant as they come since joining the New England Patriots. McCaffrey put up a tremendous season in 2019 despite being saddled with below-average quarterback play for the entire season. He's as elite a weapon as the NFL has to offer.

[RELATED: Kittle questions social distancing in 2020 NFL]

But Kittle belongs in that conversation. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns last season, and his catch-and-run against the New Orleans Saints was the type of memorable play that soon won't be forgotten.

Kittle, who is trying to work out a contract extension with the 49ers, is in good company with Thomas and Hopkins. Those two, along with Julio Jones, are the three best receivers in the NFL, and Kittle certainly belongs on their level.

It's hard to break into the "Madden 99 Club." Perhaps one more season of dominance will get Kittle the point he needs to join video game immortality.

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

George Kittle scared Seahawks into Jamal Adams trade, Ian Williams says

George Kittle scared Seahawks into Jamal Adams trade, Ian Williams says

George Kittle's contract extension was on the 49ers' mind all offseason and much of training camp, until the All-Pro tight end officially put pen to paper.

The 49ers' biggest rival thought a lot about it, too.

The Seattle Seahawks traded a fortune -- specifically, two first-round picks (2021 and 2022), a 2021 third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald -- to acquire All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. Seahawks general manager John Schneider admitted Kittle's presence was a factor in Seattle acquiring Adams, and NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Ian Williams believes that's one of the truest testaments to Kittle's greatness.

"You made Seattle sell their souls for the next couple years, and their future picks in the first round, to the Jets for Jamal Adams," Williams said, addressing Kittle in a digital video for NBC Sports Bay Area. "Very good player, but that player was brought in to be versatile, help the defense do more things that they couldn't do last year and, uh, cover you. Yeah, you're forcing teams to do what they don't want to do."

Kittle set the NFL's single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2017 (1,377) and his two seasons with 1,000-plus receiving yards are the only ones by a tight end in franchise history. The Seahawks are hoping Adams can be their long-term answer to Kittle, but they need to sign him first.

Just as Kittle was entering this season, Adams is eligible to sign a contract extension. Seattle will have Adams under contract through 2021 because New York already exercised his fifth-year option, and the Seahawks reportedly are content waiting to sign him. Adams reportedly wants to be the NFL's highest-paid safety.

[RELATED: Kittle channels Ric Flair to celebrate his new 49ers contract]

Time will tell if Adams remains in the Pacific Northwest, and if his presence is enough to neutralize Kittle in future 49ers-Seahawks matchups.

Kittle undoubtedly forced Seattle's hand this summer, and that's enough to give the tight end the upper hand in Williams' eyes.

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

The Rock congratulates 49ers' George Kittle on his contract extension

The Rock congratulates 49ers' George Kittle on his contract extension

49ers fans everywhere are pumped that George Kittle officially signed his five-year contract extension to stay in San Francisco on Friday.

But one fan is a little more jacked up for Kittle.

That's right. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson congratulated the All-Pro tight end on his new deal.

Kittle was equally stoked to get the message from The Rock.

Kittle, a huge WWE fan, has formed a close bond with The Rock over the last year. When the 49ers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 last season, Kittle channeled The Rock with a postgame speech. A day later, the wrestling icon tweeted at Kittle, blowing the tight end's mind.

[RELATED: Kittle channels Ric Flair to celebrate extension]

Ever since then, The Rock has been cheering on Kittle and the 49ers, and they even met before Super Bowl LIV.

During a recent interview with ESPN, Kittle spoke about meeting The Rock.

"I felt like a little kid meeting a superhero," Kittle said to ESPN's Tory Zawacki Roy. "That was one of the coolest things about the whole Super Bowl. I took his one bottle of tequila that he had. It was delicious."

Fans likely won't be allowed in NFL games during the 2020 season, but it's a safe bet that The Rock will be watching Kittle play and rooting for him on Twitter.

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