49ers

How George Kittle leading NFL in odd stat shows he could be even better

How George Kittle leading NFL in odd stat shows he could be even better

George Kittle was named First-Team All-Pro for the first time last season. He had the highest-graded season by a tight end in the Pro Football Focus era, and was the best overall player in the NFL last season by PFF's rankings. 

And he could have been even better with some help from the yellow flag. Kittle hauled in 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns last season despite missing two games. With a little more luck, those numbers would have been even more impressive. 

PFF's Ian Hartitz found that Kittle had three touchdowns nullified by penalties last year, leading all players in the strange stat.

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"Arguably the best tight end in the entire NFL could've had an even bigger season with a little better acting and/or performance from his teammates," Hartitz wrote.

It gets better (worse?), too. By Hartitz's count, the 49ers lead all teams with seven touchdowns called back by penalty in 2019.

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Through the video of Kittle's called-back TDs, it appears he should have had at least another 40 yards receiving on the penalty-ridden touchdowns alone. The 49ers' star tight end already had an elite season. This would have put him over the top. 

If the 49ers can clean up their penalties and Kittle remains healthy, expect another huge season from the fourth-year pro.

George Kittle, 49ers get to only reasonable destination with extension

George Kittle, 49ers get to only reasonable destination with extension

When teams get good in a hurry, as the 49ers did last season, there are difficult decisions that must follow.

Trading defensive tackle DeForest Buckner? Yes, that qualifies.

Holding onto George Kittle? Not exactly.

Sure, it took a while to arrive at the years, dollars and structure that agent Jack Bechta negotiated with the 49ers, but this was something that had to get done. There was no other reasonable option.

It is a five-year, $75 million contract with a signing bonus of $18 million, Bechta told NBC Sports Bay Area. The contract includes $30 million guaranteed at signing and $40 million in total guarantees.

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Even during a pandemic with an uncertain salary cap for future seasons, this makes complete sense for the 49ers. This was the wise decision. The recent past dictated that there was no other decision for the present and future of the franchise.

After all, if you’re not going to pay George Kittle, who are you going to pay?

It’s not hyperbole to recognize that Kittle is the most impactful offensive player -- not playing quarterback -- in the league.

At the very least, with his combination of receiving production and dominance as a blocker in the run game, there’s no other offensive player who possibly could be more valuable to the 49ers and coach Kyle Shanahan’s system.

Kittle is getting what he deserves.

And this is a load off everybody’s mind heading into the season.

George Kittle is not going anywhere for a while.

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Jaquiski Tartt did not worry Jamal Adams would replace him 49ers' secondary

Jaquiski Tartt did not worry Jamal Adams would replace him 49ers' secondary

Jaquiski Tartt is a five-year NFL veteran, but for a few moments this offseason he was transported back to his days as an under-the-radar small-college prospect at Samford University.

Tartt was with family and friends in Florida when his cousin noticed Tartt had an incoming call from a 49ers teammate.

“It’s Richard Sherman,” his cousin told Tartt.

“So I was like, ‘Yeah, it is Richard Sherman,’” Tartt said on video call with Bay Area reporters. “So I had a little fan moment then.”

The call came during a time when a segment of 49ers fans on social media were calling for the team to acquire Jamal Adams in a trade with the New York Jets. There was no indication at the the 49ers were interested, and general manager John Lynch later revealed they were not.

“He was just trying to see what I was up to,” Tartt said of Sherman. “It had nothing to do with that (Adams). But for me, it was a moment. I remember me thinking about being in college and watching Sherm in the Super Bowl and stuff like that.”

Tartt said he never seriously considered the possibility that Adams could replace him in the 49ers' secondary.

“It’s quarantine and the media need some kind of attention, so I don’t worry about that,” he said. “It’s just social media.”

Five weeks later, Adams ended up in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks in a blockbuster trade that involved the Seahawks parting ways with two first-round draft picks. It was important for Seattle to acquire Adams, in part, to deal with 49ers tight end George Kittle.

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Meanwhile, Tartt goes about getting ready for his contract year. He said his main focus during the offseason was on getting healthy. Tartt missed the final four regular-season games after sustaining fractured ribs from taking an inadvertent knee to his right side from Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram.

Tartt returned to play in each of the 49ers’ three postseason games, including Super Bowl LIV. He registered five tackles and a sack in the 49ers’ 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“To be honest, I don’t even know how I was out there,” he said. “I knew my team needed me, so I made sure I was able to play and be ready. It’s football. It’s part of football, being injured, and some things stop you from playing. I’ve been through that injury before, like in 2017, it’s something you can play through.”

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The 49ers rewarded fellow safety and his high-school teammate, Jimmie Ward, with a three-year, $28.5 million contract in the offseason. Together, as the last lines of defense, Tartt and Ward held things together last season. No team in the NFL surrendered fewer pass plays of 20 yards or more.

“This defense has a lot of good players, and we play as a team,” Tartt said. “So for us, it’s just trying to stay on the little things.”