49ers

49ers' John Lynch expects George Kittle contract extension 'in due time'

49ers' John Lynch expects George Kittle contract extension 'in due time'

The 2020 NFL Draft is over, the 49ers’ roster virtually is set and the team’s virtual offseason program has started.

Among the next items on general manager John Lynch’s to-do list: Work out a long-term extension with All-Pro tight end George Kittle.

Lynch would not put a timetable on getting a multi-year extension completed with Kittle, whom he believes is going to be playing for the 49ers for a long time.

“George is certainly a priority,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I don’t anticipate -- you never say never -- but George is going to be Niner. We think too highly of him. I think he loves the (environment).

“We got to find the right deal and we’ll continue working towards that. We’re not going to put any timetable on that. But George is certainly is a priority for us. We love everything about him. We love everything he brings to the Niners.”

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Kittle quickly became one of the NFL’s top tight ends after the 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. Lynch said the 49ers had him graded as a third- or fourth-round draft pick. But through hard work, desire, coaching, opportunity and many other factors, Kittle has exceeded even the most lofty expectations, Lynch said.

In his second season, Kittle established the league’s single-season record for a tight end with 1,377 receiving yards. Despite missing two regular-season games last season with knee and ankle issues, Kittle caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns.

[RELATED49ers' George Kittle reveals key to going from late pick to All-Pro]

Kittle and the 49ers are allowed to negotiate a contract extension for the first time this offseason. His scheduled salary for the upcoming season was increased to $2.133 million through the league's proven performance escalator.

But Kittle still is vastly underpaid. The Cleveland Browns this offseason signed free-agent Austin Hooper to a four-year contract that averages $10.5 million annually.

In addition to being the 49ers’ top receiver, Kittle also is a dominant blocker in the team’s run game.

So with all Kittle brings to the 49ers, what does that mean he is worth?

“Those are some of the challenges, I think,” Lynch said. “We understand that. And he understands that.

“These things aren’t easy. Oftentimes, they’re complex, but they’re doable. I know there’s motivation on both sides. And so I’m very confident in due time, we’ll get that done.”

49ers' Trent Taylor looks healthy, making explosive cuts in workout video

49ers' Trent Taylor looks healthy, making explosive cuts in workout video

The 49ers already have dealt with two unfortunate injuries to their receiving corps this offseason with Deebo Samuel's broken foot and Richie James' fractured wrist. There could be a silver lining to this summer's injury bug, though. 

Trent Taylor looks strong and healthy on his surgically repaired right foot. This could be huge for Kyle Shanahan's offense and the development of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. 

Taylor sustained a Jones fracture -- the same injury as Samuel -- in training camp last year and never fully recovered. He wound up having to undergo five surgeries and missed the entire 2019 season. But in a recent workout video with teammate George Kittle, Taylor looks to be back to the player that quickly became a favorite target of Garoppolo's in 2017. 

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

The 5-foot-8 slot receiver was the perfect comfort blanket for Garoppolo after he took over the starting QB job late in 2017. Garoppolo completed 17 of his 20 pass attempts to Taylor for 191 yards in 2017, and had a 102.3 QB rating when targeting the slippery receiver over the final five games of the season. 

Taylor's stats took a tumble in 2018 with Garoppolo sidelined. Fellow receiver Kendrick Bourne believes that's about to change this season. 

Before Taylor went down in camp last season, 49ers coaches had high hopes for him. Really high.

"Several S.F. coaches believed he was headed for a Pro Bowl campaign at this time a year ago, and having former Patriots and Broncos star Wes Welker as his position coach and role model doesn't hurt," NFL Media's Mike Silver said back in May.

[RELATED: 49ers haven't forgotten about McKinnon; neither should you]

Even if Taylor isn't a star or Pro Bowl receiver, he's proved his value by developing chemistry with Garoppolo when healthy. Every quarterback has their guy where they can feel their energy on the field. It's an invisible, invaluable bond. 

Taylor could be that guy for Garoppolo, only making this offense that much more explosive.

49ers' Richard Sherman blasts new NFL jersey swap policy for 2020 season

49ers' Richard Sherman blasts new NFL jersey swap policy for 2020 season

The NFL continued to do what it does best Thursday: Cast a meaningless mirage that the league actually cares about the players' safety. 

There's hypocrisy, and then there's this. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday morning that NFL players will be forbidden from interacting with each other after games from fewer than six feet apart, and jersey swaps will not be allowed. Richard Sherman blasted the NFL for "thinking in a nutshell," and couldn't help but get a laugh out of the situation. 

He's exactly right. How is the 49ers' star cornerback supposed to be tackling players and putting his body on the line for four quarters, and then the league all of the sudden cares about his health? That's not how this works. 

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

ESPN's Mina Kimes had the perfect comparison for the worthless policy if you need a good laugh right now. Who am I kidding, we all need that and plenty more to cheer us up these days.

The NFL has tried its best to act like everything is business as usual this offseason, despite the coronavirus running more rampant than Raheem Mostert in the NFC Championship Game. Free agency and the draft still were blown into giant events with hours of coverage. The same goes for schedules being released, as if everything will be smooth sailing. 

[RELATED: Whitner believes Washington needs NFL team name change]

Training camp is right around the corner, and there's no doubt the NFL wants to do everything in their power to ensure there aren't any delays. This league cares more about reminding players that drug testing resumes when they show up to camp than the actual health risks of its players, with an invisible evil lurking through the air and into our bodies. 

Sherman and any other player has every right to call out the league right now. Until the NFL puts words into action in protecting players, silence isn't the answer.