All-Pro tight end George Kittle had one year remaining on his contract. The 49ers, technically, could have held onto him for at least through the 2021 season with the franchise tag.
And the stars did not exactly align for a mega-deal this offseason. The nation is in the midst of a pandemic and NFL revenues – and next year’s salary cap – are expected to plummet.
“But when you have a guy like George who is different, and is special, and it’s not just about being the best tight end in the NFL, it’s who he is after that, to me, makes you want to get that stuff done when you might not actually have to right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday morning on KNBR’s Murph & Mac Show.
Kittle and the 49ers agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract extension through the 2025 season. The deal contains $30 million in fully guaranteed money.
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The timing of the agreement comes two days before the 49ers are scheduled to hit their Santa Clara practice field for the first time during training camp.
It also comes after his third NFL season, which is the first time a player can renegotiate his original rookie contract. Kittle entered the league in 2017 as a fifth-round draft pick from Iowa.
Since entering the league, Kittle has 2,945 yards receiving, the most for any tight end through three seasons.
“He’s earned it,” Shanahan said of the contract. “He does everything the right way. It starts with how talented and good you play on Sunday, which he does better than any tight end in the league. But after that. The way the guy takes care of himself. The way he works year-round to put his body in a position to stay healthy with the way he plays. It makes you believe in the guy.
“It makes you believe in not what he has done but what he’s going to do. When you have a guy like that, it makes it a lot easier for the owner to commit to him like that. We were just pumped to get it done because it’s something we all were dying to get something like that done with a player like George, and thankfully we did.”