49ers should re-sign George Kittle as soon as possible

49ers, George Kittle (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
49ers, George Kittle (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers have one of the best players on their roster in George Kittle. His contract ends after the 2020 season and it’s imperative the 49ers sign him before it’s too late.

It’s rare to find mid-to-late-round gems in the NFL Draft. The San Francisco 49ers found a steal when they selected tight end George Kittle in the fifth round back in 2017. Kittle signed a four-year deal and it’s set to expire after the 2020 season.

There’s a strong chance whenever the 49ers decide to offer Kittle a contract, he becomes the leagues’ highest-paid tight end. As it stands, he is ranked 42nd according to Spotrac, when it comes to cap hits. Don’t read too much into this because Kittle is still on his rookie deal.

We’re in an interesting time when it comes to sports. And the way other professional leagues handle business might influence the NFL, which in turn could impact how the 49ers handle Kittle’s contract.

The MLB announced if no games are played, players who would become unrestricted free agents in the offseason, can still do so. Jabari Young of CNBC gives an example using the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They made a big offseason trade for outfielder Mookie Betts. Betts only has one year left on his contract, so if no games are played in 2020, he can become a UFA without ever dawning a Dodgers uniform.

More from San Francisco 49ers

It’s not my intention to start rumors or suggest this will happen, however we all know every other team would love Kittle in their offense. How could you not?

He’s physical, athletic has a great vibe with the media, and just loves the game of football. If a full season is lost, and he becomes a free agent, the 49ers’ front office will have to act quick.

I’m a firm believer Kittle will stay as long as Jimmy Garoppolo is quarterback, Kyle Shanahan is head coach and John Lynch as general manager. There’s a lot of unfinished business surrounding this team, so even if we don’t play a down in 2020, they’ll still want to be on the “Revenge Tour” until they win a championship.

The 49ers made a major trade before the draft when they shipped defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis for their first-round pick. With this move, it cleared up a lot of cap space which many were thinking would and should be used on Kittle.

Spotrac has the market value for tight ends set at $12.5 million per year. If Kittle signs for four years he’d be the highest-paid in his position by over $2 million. Based solely on Kittle’s production for the 49ers, this would certainly be a steal.

More from Golden Gate Sports

However, looking at Kittle’s stats compared to other tight ends who recently signed new deals, $12.5 million per year is the best deal on the market. Kittle leads in six categories Spotrac has supplied to back up any argument on if he is worth the money.

He is.

Kittle has been the top 49ers receiver for the past two years. In those seasons he’s caught a total of 173 passes for 2,430 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel had the most receiving yards among true wideouts last season with 802 while wide receiver Kendrick Bourne led the receivers in 2018 with 487 yards. Combined, neither reach the same amount of production as Kittle.

Recently tight end Austin Hooper signed a four-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. He signed for an average salary of $10 million per year and is the highest-paid tight end. He recorded fewer receptions, receiving yards and yards after the catch than Kittle in the past two years.

This just clarifies how important re-signing Kittle is. He is statistically the best in his position, but we’ve seen how tough he plays. Kittle is worth every penny the 49ers eventually throw his way.

49ers: 4 hardest games on the 2020 schedule. dark. Next

As previously mentioned, they must sign Kittle now, since there is so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season.