Bill Belichick knows a thing or two about talented tight ends, having coached future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski for nine seasons.
When asked about George Kittle during a conference call with local Bay Area media Monday, the New England Patriots coach showed how much of a fan he is of the 49ers All-Pro tight end.
“Kittle is a great player,” Belichick said. “He does everything well. Good as anybody that I’ve coached, or as good as anybody we’ve played against. He’s got a great skill set.”
Belichick went on to describe all of Kittle’s qualities: His ability to run, catch, block, and maybe most importantly, what he does after the ball is in his hands. Belichick added that Kittle is right at the top of the league in all categories.
Belichick hasn't started game-planning to face Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, but knows that he has to be aware of how Kittle will be used. He emphasized that the tight end can put stress on a defense with or without the ball in his hands.
“[They] use him as a decoy to open up things for other guys,” Belichick said. “If you pay too much attention to him, it creates opportunities for some of their other outstanding players. And if you don’t pay enough attention to him, he can kill you."
Kittle obviously is not the only offensive skill player that the Patriots' defense will have to worry about. During the 49ers’ win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, Deebo Samuel looked like he did at the end of his rookie season. And 2020 first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk is developing into a playmaker as well.
As Kittle has said in the past, a defense can limit him statistically on the offense, but he’s still going to make his presence known in the run game helping his offensive counterpart's productivity. Through four games the 27-year-old tight end has already caught 30 of his 38 targets for 380 yards giving him an average of 12.7 yards per reception.
“I don’t think there’s a tight end in the league, and we’ve seen a lot of good ones, and had a lot of a good ones, but I don’t think there’s anyone in the league that does everything overall as well as he does,” Belichick said. “Really doesn’t have any weak points at all. Just outstanding at every phase of the game.”