It's easy to lose track of time these days, but last I checked, the year was 2020.
Not 2016. Definitely not 2012.
Which is why the question Kay Adams posed Thursday on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" was so absurd: Which quarterback-tight end combo would you buy for 2020 -- the 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle or the Tampa Buccaneers' Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski?
The answer is quite obvious, which is why NFL Network's Nate Burleson, Peter Schrager and Kyle Brandt all had the same response.
It's Jimmy G and Kittle. Duh.
"I'm not going to disrespect the fact that they've been cooking for a couple of seasons," Burleson said of the 49ers' combo. "George Kittle was a beast last year, and literally had his arm strapped to his body so it wouldn't fall off. So imagine him 100 percent healthy, and now, these guys playing together with another season, catching a little bit more of a rhythm."
"I know what I'm going to get out of Kittle," Burleson continued. "I'm not sure what I'm going to get out of Gronk."
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In making his choice, Brandt utilized a cross-sport analogy to poke fun at the considerably older Buccaneers combo.
"I look at Tom Brady right now, and he reminds me of a young Vince Carter on the [Toronto] Raptors," Brandt said sarcastically. "Just purely explosive, wild talent. And I think that would make Gronk like a young [Tracy McGrady]."
"Kittle is already [in game shape]," he added. "Kittle's already younger. Kittle is the future. I believe in [coach Kyle] Shanahan. And as explosive as Tom Brady is at this age, I'm still going to go with the Niners."
Schrager echoed similar comments, and made the responses 3-for-3 in favor of the 49ers.
"We look at Gronk and Brady and we expect it to be the 2012 version or even the 2016 version ... but I just don't know what I'm getting yet," Schrager explained. "But I think Garoppolo and Kittle are in their prime right now. They are clicking. They are ascending still. So, this looks like a clean sweep."
Indeed, as well it should have been.
Kittle has been the best tight end in the NFL over the last two seasons. Gronkowski was out of football last year. Kittle won't turn 27 until October. Gronk just turned 31, and already is part-machine after a number of injuries and corresponding surgeries. He is the greatest tight end of all time ... for now. Kittle is just getting started on what looks to be a legendary career, and there isn't a single GM in all of football who would take Gronk over him in 2020.
Garoppolo is better -- right now -- than Brady, too.
Last season, in comparison to Brady, Jimmy G completed a far higher percentage of his passes (69.1 percent to 60.8), threw for only 79 fewer yards despite attempting 137 fewer passes, threw for more touchdowns, averaged 1.8 yards more per attempt and posted a far superior quarterback rating (102.0 to 88.0).
Granted, Brady didn't have the benefit of throwing to Gronk last year, but he simply no longer is the quarterback that he once was. And, like Gronk, even if he's the best of all time at his position, that's a career achievement -- not a reflection of his position in the current QB hierarchy.
Garoppolo and Kittle have a combined age of 54 years old. They're better than the 72-year-old Brady-Gronk combo right now, and there's every reason to believe that gap will continue to grow wider and wider moving forward.