49ers

49ers, Titans advancing to Super Bowl LIV would hurt Vegas sportsbooks

49ers, Titans advancing to Super Bowl LIV would hurt Vegas sportsbooks

If early reports are any indication, it seems that everyone and their mother thinks Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers will be spending a week in South Florida for Super Bowl LIV come early February.

San Francisco opened as significant favorites over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, and NFL talking heads are already anointing the Niners the best team remaining in the playoffs.

While the oddsmakers in Vegas are giving the 49ers a pretty healthy advantage, that does not mean that those inside the sportsbooks around the country will be rooting for the Niners in Sunday’s contest.

“All along, Frisco has been no good (for the book) because it’s a West Coast team and we’ve got so many books up north and they were already good with (quarterback) Jimmy (Garoppolo),” William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Back East, we’re really good with the 49ers. The Chiefs and the Packers are both good.”

In addition to San Francisco, the AFC's sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans -- architects of back-to-back shocking playoff upsets over the New England Patriots and top-seeded Baltimore Ravens -- would spell bad news for the oddsmakers if they were to wind up taking down the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game and advancing to Super Bowl LIV.

“Any time a team like Tennessee comes out of the blue, there’s always a chance you can get hurt,” Bogdanovich said. “Back East, we get bludgeoned by the Titans. Anyone but the Titans is what we’re rooting for.”

[RELATED: Shanahan happy Browns didn't hire Saleh as their head coach]

So a 49ers-Titans Super Bowl matchup would mean big trouble for those who set the odds in Sin City. But if you’re a 49ers fan, a strong run defense going up against Derrick Henry and the Titans sounds a lot more appealing than having to outduel reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs offense.

Start getting those bets in now, 49ers fans.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

George Kittle makes 49ers' top plays in franchise history: No. 20-16

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George Kittle makes 49ers' top plays in franchise history: No. 20-16

The 49ers have played 70 seasons in the National Football League after four seasons (1946 to ‘49) in the All-America Football Conference.

As the 49ers prepare for the organization’s 75th season, it gives us reason to look back on the top plays in franchise history.

It’s subjective, of course. We tried to take into account historical significance, so a play that happens in the postseason is weighted in a way that reflects that. But some great plays simply stand on their own, regardless of when it occurred.

What follows is a list of the top 20 plays in 49ers history, beginning the countdown with Nos. 20 through No. 16.

CLICK FOR PLAYS NO. 20-16

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

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.

Hunter Henry is scheduled to be the highest paid tight end in the league this season at $10.6 million after the Los Angeles Chargers designated him as their franchise player. Austin Hooper became the league’s top-paid tight end on a multi-year contract when the Cleveland Browns signed him as a free agent to a four-year deal that averages $10.5 million annually.

[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.”