The 49ers made George Kittle the highest-paid tight end in NFL history this offseason, and David Carr expects another big season from the tight end.
Going into Sunday's season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, Carr, the former No. 1 overall draft pick and current NFL Media analyst, ranks Kittle as the seventh-best offensive player in the game right now. Carr has Kittle as the top tight end in football, and ranks just two receivers -- Michael Thomas and Davante Adams -- ahead of him.
Kittle catches Carr's attention by not just being a threat in the passing game, but also loving to block for the 49ers' running backs.
"The way this guy embraces blocking -- he does it with a vengeance -- makes this run game so effective, as the 49ers rushed for 4.8 yards per carry with Kittle last season and just 2.6 yards per carry in the two games he missed, per Next Gen Stats," Carr wrote. "Man, I can't wait to see him back on the field wrecking defenders."
For his combination of being a top receiver and blocker, the tight end might be the most appropriate definition of a unicorn in the NFL right now. Kittle broke the single-season receiving yards record by a tight end in 2018, and then was Pro Football Focus' top-rated player last season when he had 1,053 receiving yards in 14 regular-season games. And he led all tight ends with 20 forced missed tackles.
As he goes, the 49ers go.
Carr has Kittle ahead of top receivers like Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins, and understandably so. With a much bigger bank account, the 49ers certainly expect Kittle to play up to the ranking Carr has him.