George Kittle is a one-of-a-kind tight end, and one stat from football analytics site Pro Football Focus is the latest indication why.
The 49ers star has been, in PFF's estimation, one of just two tight ends since 2018 to rank among the best at his position in receiving and run-blocking.
Kittle's 2,430 receiving yards over the last two seasons are second-best at his position behind Kansas City Chiefs counterpart Travis Kelce, and the Iowa product's per-game average of 81 yards actually topped Kelce. The 26-year-old also set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end (1,377) in 2018, even as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was sidelined for all but four games with a torn ACL.
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But the 49ers recognize Kittle is much more than a playmaker, equally valuing his contributions to the team's dominant running game.
“I mean, he had more yards in the pass game as a tight end in the history of the NFL last year,” coach Kyle Shanahan said in January (H/T Jennifer Lee Chan). “So, any time you have a guy like that who's one of the best players on your team who's always just talking about running the ball and playing the physicality in the game and giving everything you can, it helps you hold everyone else a lot more accountable, and rarely do you have to."
While Kittle's skills make him a complete tight end, he reportedly doesn't want to be paid like one. NFL Media's Mike Silver said Friday on "NFL Total Access" that Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, "[doesn't] care about the tight-end market" in contract-extension negotiations with the 49ers and thinks his client's new deal should reflect Kittle's unique, all-purpose value.
"I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal," Silver recalled Bechta saying.
The 49ers and Kittle aren't "close at all" on a new deal as a result, according to Silver.
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There's still plenty of time for the 49ers and Kittle to reach an agreement, as he's entering the final year of his rookie deal. The 49ers, of course, can also use the franchise tag on him heading into the 2021 season.
If the two sides are going to reach a long-term deal, it sure seems like Kittle wants his receiving and blocking contributions reflected in it.