George Kittle didn’t go into the 2018 season as a star. But the second-year 49ers player from Iowa, who had a promising rookie season, certainly is getting star treatment now.
Kittle was selected this week to the All-Pro team of the analytic website Pro Football Focus after a season of 88 catches, an NFL-record 1,377 yards for a tight end and five touchdowns.
“What Kittle did with a mélange of backup quarterbacks – and as a run blocker – was quite simply one of the best seasons we’ve ever graded from the tight end position,” wrote Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus. “Not only did he break the record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end, he broke the PFF record for yards after the catch by any position player for a single season. His 873 yards after the catch were 299 more than (the Chiefs’ Travis) Kelce.”
Kelce was PFF’s second-team All-Pro at tight end.
Kittle, who will play in his first Pro Bowl, had four 100-plus-yard games in 2018, including a seven-catch, 210-yard game against the Broncos. He closed out the season with a nine-catch, 149-yard day against the Rams that included a 43-yard TD late in the game to set the receiving yardage record.
That play, said 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, showed what kind of player Kittle is.
“The last play was like a microcosm of who he is as a player and a person,” Sherman told Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. “It’s a 5-yard gain for the record and he takes it – whatever it was – 40 yards, scores a touchdown. He just never stops playing.”