Was Bill Belichick's recent praise for George Kittle also a subtle jab at Rob Gronkowski?
On Monday, Belichick said the San Francisco 49ers tight end is “as good as anybody that I’ve coached or as good as anybody that we’ve played against.” Since he coached Gronk for nine years in New England, some interpreted those comments as a shot at the future Hall of Famer.
Rob Ninkovich certainly saw it that way. The former Patriots linebacker spoke about Belichick's praise for Kittle during his Thursday appearance on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show.
“I don’t get why he is doing that,” Ninkovich said. “It seems like a little shot. It seems like a little jab.”
“ … I just think it may be a slight little jab there, which seems a little unnecessary," he later added. "But, Kittle is good. You can’t argue with the fact that Kittle is the best tight end in the game right now. I personally think he is. He is better than (Travis) Kelce in the running game. He can block, he’s tough. He has a little bit of craziness to him where if he’s going to get hit he is going to jump up and scream a little bit. For me, I like him as the No. 1 tight end in the league right now. Best ever? It’s still Gronk to me.”
Kittle indeed is one of the best tight ends in the NFL right now -- if not the best -- but the 27-year-old still has a ways to go to catch up to Gronkowski. It's fair to wonder why Belichick didn't acknowledge his former tight end's contributions while gushing about Kittle.
The Patriots will host the 49ers on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.