Kyle Shanahan 'Optimistic' George Kittle, 49ers Will Reach Contract Extension

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, stands on the field as tight end George Kittle kneels prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)
Marcio Sanchez/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were able to meet with superstar tight end George Kittle Monday, and optimism abounds that a long-term extension is in Kittle's future.

Shanahan told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports that the team was "doing everything" to come to an agreement:

"We don't have to say how important George is to us. Not only being the best tight end, to me, in the league, but also the type of person he is. We're doing everything we can to get that done. I do feel good about it. It was great to see George today for the first time.

"It was great to see George again today. No one's changed, and I feel really good about this going forward and I'm optimistic about it. Hopefully, something will happen sooner than later. I'm not too concerned about it, though."

"We're working diligently to come to a resolution," Lynch added.

Kittle, 26, has emerged as one of the best players in football. In 2019, he registered 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five scores in 14 games, helping lead the Niners to the Super Bowl. Monday's addition of veteran Jordan Reed could create some scary two-tight end sets for opposing defenses. 

But Kittle is more than just a receiver, as Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wrote after grading him as the best player in the NFL last season:

"He averaged 7.3 yards per catch after the ball arrived in his hands, the most among players with 50 or more receptions, and he broke 20 tackles, which led all tight ends and wideouts. He was also a run-blocking monster, caving defenders from safeties to defensive linemen to the floor and opening up holes for the San Francisco ground attack. His overall PFF grade was 95.0, which is the best grade PFF has ever given to a tight end—including Rob Gronkowski—and the best grade of any player, at any position, in football this year."

His ability to impact the game as both a pass-catcher and blocker make him incredibly valuable, and ensures that he'll eventually sign a monster extension.

The two-time Pro Bowler and 2019 first-team All-Pro has a cap hit of $2.2 million in 2020 before becoming an unrestricted free agent. It's unlikely he'd ever sniff free agency—San Francisco would assuredly use the franchise tag on him—but avoiding that scenario altogether is the best possible outcome for both parties.