Why Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle better duo than Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski

Why Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle better duo than Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski

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.

[RELATED: These are the 49ers' top five future contract conundrums]

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.

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

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49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

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