The 49ers and All-Pro tight end George Kittle reach a couple of key junctures in their negotiations toward a contract extension in the coming days.
The sides have not reached any agreement, league sources indicated Wednesday to NBC Sports Bay Area, but they appear to be making “healthier progress” toward a deal that is expected to make Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the NFL by a wide margin.
Earlier this week, Mike Silver of the NFL Network quoted agent Jack Bechta as saying “progress has been minimal” in negotiations.
Kittle reported to training camp on time in late-July. He and his teammates have been taking part in meetings, workouts and walk-throughs at the team's practice facility in Santa Clara. The 49ers are scheduled to hold their first non-padded practices Saturday and Sunday before engaging in their first padded practice on Monday.
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The practices represent the first set of risks for players as they return to the field. Kittle is scheduled to make $2.133 million this season on the final year of his original four-year contract after the 49ers selected him in the fifth-round of the 2017 draft.
In addition to being a major factor in the 49ers’ run game as a blocker, Kittle had more receiving than any tight end in NFL history through three seasons. He has 216 catches for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns in 45 games.
Kittle set the NFL record for most receiving yards in a single season from a tight end with 1,377 yards in 2018.
The Cleveland Browns made Austin Hooper the highest-paid tight end in free agency with a four-year deal that averages $10.5 million a season.