49ers' John Lynch 'Very Confident' New George Kittle Contract Will Be Signed

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) is seen against the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl 54 on Feb. 2, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Chiefs won the game 31-20. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch says he is "very confident" the team and tight end George Kittle will reach a long-term contract extension.

"These things aren't easy. Oftentimes, they're complex, but they're doable. I know there's motivation on both sides," Lynch told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. "And so I'm very confident in due time, we'll get that done."

Kittle is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. He's made $1.96 million over the first three seasons of his career and is due a $2.13 million base salary in 2020.

Lynch added:

"George is certainly a priority. I don't anticipate – you never say never – but George is going to be [a] Niner. We think too highly of him. I think he loves the (environment).

"We got to find the right deal and we'll continue working towards that. We're not going to put any timetable on that. But George is certainly is a priority for us. We love everything about him. We love everything he brings to the Niners."

Kittle has earned a big contract, perhaps even one that would make him the highest-paid tight end in football. He recorded 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns last season, earning Pro Bowl honors for the second straight season and a first-team All-Pro nod. Add in blocking ability that's near the level of an offensive lineman, and Kittle earned a 95.0 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2019.

Austin Hooper signed a four-year, $42 million contract with the Cleveland Browns this offseason, which gave him the highest average annual salary for a tight end at $10.5 million. Hunter Henry will make $10.6 million this season after the Los Angeles Chargers franchise-tagged him. No other tight end tops $10 million per year.

It's a near certainty that Kittle will surpass Hooper's contract, and he could even beat Rob Gronkowski's six-year, $54 million deal to have the highest-ever maximum value for a tight end.