Kyle Shanahan's three favorite words might be "yards after catch." The 49ers head coach has built an offense around YAC Kings with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
When it comes to tight ends, nobody is more dangerous with the ball in hands than Kittle. Stats don't lie, and this is an eye-opener.
Most yards after catch last two seasons (TEs)— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 20, 2020
1. George Kittle - 1,494
2. Travis Kelce - 977
3. Darren Waller - 653
4. Zach Ertz - 647 pic.twitter.com/nfcYyRExVK
Kittle cemented himself as the NFL's best tight end last season. Though he broke the single-season receiving yards record by a tight end in 2018, Kittle was seen as an even better all-around player last season while missing two games to leg injuries.
Kittle wasn't just Pro Football Focus' highest-graded tight end, he was their highest-graded overall player. The 49ers' star tight end finished with a 95.0 grade, the best ever for a tight end in the PFF era (2006-19).
[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
When debating who the best tight end in the NFL is, only two names can be mentioned: Kittle and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kittle was named First Team All-Pro last season while Kittle was Second Team for tight ends. The year before, the roles were reversed.
Kittle has 173 receptions for 2,430 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 30 games over the last two seasons. Kelce has played two more games than Kittle and has 200 receptions for 2,565 receiving yards and 15 TDs. Jimmy Garoppolo certainly is a better quarterback than he gets credit for at times, but Kelce has a major advantage with Patrick Mahomes throwing him passes.
There's no doubt these two are the cream of the crop for tight ends in the NFL. As far as YAC goes, 517 yards is quite the advantage in two fewer games, especially with a lesser QB.
Kittle is due for a major payday by the 49ers in the near future, and his dominance in the open field is just another example of how important he is to Shanahan's offense.