George Kittle had a breakout year with the 49ers, setting the NFL single-season record for tight ends with 1,377 receiving yards.

Now that Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement a couple of months shy of his 30th birthday, is Kittle the best active tight end in the league?

That was the question KNBR Morning Show host Brian Murphy asked Lynch on Friday.

Lynch said yes.

Then, he said maybe.

Then, he said no.

“Well, I believe so,” Lynch initially answered. “I’m also a believer that you ... have to have those titles you have to lay it down, the kind of year George did, for a number of years.

“So I think I’ll reserve judgment. I have strong feelings on the way he played and the way I feel he is going to [play].”

Lynch concluded: “So will kind of say, ‘No,’ for now. But I certainly believe he has that in him. If he puts up another season like last year, I think we can start talking about titles like that.”

If Gronkowski follows through with his retirement, his career ends with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. He previously held the single-season receiving record for tight ends with 1,327 yards in 2011.

Kansas City’s Travis Kelce seemingly would take over as being recognized -- from most folks who are not in the 49ers’ fan base -- as the game’s top tight end. Over the past five seasons, Kelce has 410 catches for 5,236 yards and 32 TDs.


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Last season, Kittle caught 88 passes for 1,377 yards and five TDs. Kelce caught 103 passes for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns. Both players also are outstanding blockers.