49ers

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers have 'significant disconnect' on contract

NFL rumors: George Kittle, 49ers have 'significant disconnect' on contract

Much to Trent Taylor's dismay, the 49ers and George Kittle remain very far apart when it comes to the start tight end's new contract.

Kittle, who is set to earn $2.133 million this season, wants to be paid like a top wide receiver or offensive tackle, two positions which make significantly more than tight ends. But NFL Media's Mike Silver reported Friday that there still is a "significant disconnect" between the 49ers and Kittle.

"There remains a pretty significant disconnect philosophically between the 49ers and George Kittle's camp," Silver said. "The 49ers believe they want to reset the tight end market and give him a great tight end deal. Kittle's kind of saying, 'I'm more than just a tight end,' ... If you look at him as a tight end then sure George Kittle could reset the market. Kittle, who was just voted the seventh-best player by his peers, who in my opinion has earned that distinction is thinking, 'I don't want to be viewed as a tight end for the purposes of these negotiations."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kittle is entering the final year of a four-year contract he signed as a fifth-round draft pick back in 2017. Since being drafted out of Iowa, Kittle has emerged as the premier tight end in football, becoming the only tight end in 49ers history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season. He set the NFL single-season record for yards by a tight end with 1,377 in 2018, and followed that up with 1,053 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games last season.

When asked if he thought Kittle would play this season for $2.133 million, Silver noted that if Kittle got frustrated with the negotiations he always could opt out of the season due to the coronavirus, take the $150,000 check and continue the talks while not playing. Kittle relishes his role as a leader on this 49ers team, and loves to play football so it's hard to see Kittle choosing not to play as the 49ers look to return to the Super Bowl and finish the job this time around.

Kittle certainly has a case to be paid along the lines of a top pass-catcher/tackle and not just a tight end. Kittle is the 49ers' best receiving threat and a key blocker in their potent rushing attack. Resetting the tight end market likely would see Kittle get somewhere around $13 million annually. Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper currently is the highest-paid tight end on a multi-year deal at $10.5 million annually. Kittle likely is seeking a deal that sees him paid as a versatile offensive weapon and not just a tight end, something similar to the four-year, $64 million contract that Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey signed that will see him make $16 million annually.

[RELATED: Kittle's reaction to Seahawks' Adams trade is peak Kittle]

The 49ers currently have time and the collective bargaining agreement on their side. Kittle is under contract this season, and if he holds out he will be hit with stiff financial penalties. The 49ers also have the franchise tag at their disposal and could tag him next season for $11 million, tag him in 2022 for around $13 million and then again in 2023 for around $16 million.

That's likely not a road the 49ers would go down as to not sour the relationship with their best player, but it does show how little leverage Kittle has at the moment.

The 49ers spent the offseason giving contract extensions to coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. They also reworked running back Raheem Mostert's contract after he made a public trade demand. The Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, took care of Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones this offseason.

It's fair for Kittle to wonder when he's going to get the paycheck he's rightfully earned.

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

Nick Bosa was voted the best rookie in the NFL last season.

The 49ers’ defensive end is approaching the 2020 season with even-bigger expectations for himself.

“I’ve got some pretty concrete things that I’ve been focusing on,” said Bosa, the consensus NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and chosen as the overall Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Bosa registered nine sacks during the regular season with a total of 80 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He added four more sacks in three postseason games.

Bosa came to the NFL with a reputation as an advanced technician. This season, he believes he will be better prepared mentally to become more of a down-to-down force.

”Last year, I didn’t really know what was going to work and what wasn’t and what was my go-to,” he said. “So just coming into games with a better plan of not wasting any time out there because you only get so many opportunities and you want to get those big numbers and help your team as best as you can and get the ball out. You have to come in with a plan and not waste any rushes.”

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Bosa said he has spent the past six months working on a couple of new pass-rush moves. Even before the draft last year, Bosa spoke about a cross-chop move that Aaron Donald has perfected on his way to becoming arguably the league’s best defensive player. Bosa has also been considering adding a spin move to his arsenal.

Bosa said he also has worked on making better use of his hands to ward off pass-blockers and get to the quarterback more effectively.

“I win a lot at the top of my rush, but a lot of the times I get washed by the quarterback or I don’t pose enough space and finish the plays, so that’s probably been the biggest emphasis for me,” he said. “And I’ve been working that in walk-throughs and drills all (off)-season.”

Bosa faced a number of obstacles as he prepared for his rookie season a year ago. He underwent core-muscle surgery that ended his final season at Ohio State after three games. Bosa spent months rehabbing and traveling the country to meet with teams during the pre-draft process.

After the 49ers selected Bosa with the No. 2 overall draft pick, a hamstring strain during the offseason program sidelined him until training camp. Then, early in camp he sustained a high-ankle sprain that kept him out until Week 1 of the regular season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa 'not going to blame the ref' for big Super Bowl no-call]

While the 49ers and the rest of the NFL canceled on-field work this spring, Bosa trained daily with his brother, Joey, and he believes he enters his second season much better prepared than a year ago.

“I think I’ve gotten all of the benefits and I’m feeling it out here in these workouts, in these runs we’re doing,” he said. “I feel like I’m, by far, in the best shape that I’ve ever been. I don’t look much different because we don’t train to body-build. We train to play football, and I think it’ll show.”

49ers' Nick Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for big Super Bowl no-call

49ers' Nick Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for big Super Bowl no-call

Third-and-15.

Three words that will forever be linked to the 49ers’ inability to close the door on the Kansas City Chiefs in the middle of the fourth quarter of their Super Bowl LIV loss at Hard Rock Stadium.

Third-and-15 conjures up a bunch of “what-if” scenarios. The 49ers led by 10 points. They'd lose the game by 11. That play on third-and-15 gave the Chiefs a chance.

It took a while for Tyreek Hill’s downfield route to develop. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes needed time in order for Hill to fool 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley into believing his destination was the deep middle of the field. Mahomes had just enough time to allow Hill time to break his route back outside.

What happened at the beginning of the play made the 44-yard pass completion possible. Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa appeared to beat Kansas City left tackle Eric Fisher with an inside move. But Fisher steered Bosa clear of Mahomes with his right arm wrapped around Bosa’s right ribcage.

Months later, does Bosa believe he was held on the play?

“I’ve gotten that question a bunch,” he said with a laugh during a video call with Bay Area reporters.

“I don’t like thinking about that game very much, but I have gone back and watched up until the fourth quarter and, um, was I held? I mean, it comes down to the opinion of a human being. So that’s what refs are. They’re human beings. So if they think it’s holding, they think it’s holding. It could’ve been holding. It could’ve not been holding. It just depends on what he thinks.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Referee Bill Vinovich did not reach for his flag, and the play stood.

Bosa did not have a chance after Fisher got his arm around him. Meanwhile, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who lined up inside of Bosa, was a split-second late in getting to Mahomes.

“I’m not going to say that’s the reason we lost the game because there were plenty of opportunities where I could’ve done better,” Bosa said of the no-call. “I could’ve done better on that move on third and 15. I’m sure Buck is kicking himself. He thinks he could’ve done better on the wrap and gotten there a little quicker. I’m not going to blame the ref, by any means.”

Buckner is now with the Indianapolis Colts after the 49ers traded him for a first-round draft pick that was used to select his replacement, Javon Kinlaw. Buckner is the only defensive starter who does not return for the 49ers this season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa expects Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season]

All the holdovers will use third-and-15 as “good motivation,” said Bosa. After all, his rookie season fell just short of the ultimate prize.

“First year, you get there and you’re seven minutes away and a nightmare of a situation happens,” Bosa said. “So you could bet we’re going to come back pretty strong this year if we’re able to get 16 games in and the playoffs.”