Two years after being selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft, George Kittle has become one of the league’s top players.
The 49ers’ young tight end, coming off a record-breaking 2018 season, was ranked by the analytic website Pro Football Focus as No. 13 on its list of the top-performing players in the NFL in 2018.
After a strong rookie season in 2017 when he caught 43 passes for 515 yards and two touchdowns, Kittle had a huge sophomore season, with 88 catches, 1,377 yards – a single-season record for tight ends – and five scores. Even while playing with a changing cast at quarterback (mostly C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens), Kittle was a consistent playmaker.
Wrote Pro Football Focus: “No player in the PFF era has ever racked up more yards after the catch in a single season than Kittle did in 2018. Not just tight ends – everyone. His 873 yards after the catch were also 200 more than we’ve ever seen from a tight end before.
“Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that his targets came from backup quarterbacks all season.”
Kittle said after this past season he’s grateful to be in the offensive scheme of Kyle Shanahan that leans heavily on tight ends in the passing game.
“I think I’m one of the luckiest guys in the NFL,” Kittle said recently. “Just to be around that creativity. I feel like I’m open half the time I’m on the field and that’s just his schemes and his play-action and stuff. It’s really fun to be on a team with a guy that thinks like that.”