George Kittle’s big new contract still gives the 49ers great value

The 49ers have signed George Kittle to a massive five-year, $75 million contract extension.

Not that there was ever a doubt but the San Francisco 49ers have made sure that tight end George Kittle isn’t going anywhere. As the former fifth-round pick is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, he and the franchise that drafted him reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million extension with $40 million guaranteed, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Despite falling to the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Kittle has been a revelation for the 49ers since arriving. In 15 games (seven starts) as a rookie, he came up with 43 receptions for 515 yards and two scores. But over the past two years, he’s been a bonafide superstar, combining for 173 catches, 2,430 yards and 10 touchdowns in 30 games while also being a top-tier run-blocker.

At just 26 years old — he turns 27 on Oct. 9 — it’s no wonder why the 49ers wanted to lock up Kittle rather than let him free agency. But they are obviously paying him handsomely to do so. Yet, it’s honestly not as handsomely as he might deserve to be paid.

George Kittle is still a great value for the 49ers at his new price.

Kittle is now the highest-paid tight end in the NFL but that doesn’t mean he’s not still a bargain because of all he brings to the table for San Francisco. With his ability as a pass-catcher in addition to his prowess as a blocker in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, he not only deserves to set the market at his position but to be paid like a high-end wide receiver.

In the 14 games he played last season, Kittle was one of only nine players (Travis Kelce was the only other tight end) who averaged more than six receptions and 75 receiving yards per game. Of those nine players, he was second to only Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas in terms of catch rate, hauling in 79.4 percent of his targets.

Throughout his young career, Kittle has clearly established himself as a reliable safety valve who can turn an easy completion into much more. He’s a monster to take down after the catch, which is only made more valuable with his sure hands and high catch rate.

Additionally, only two qualifying tight ends had a higher run-blocking grade than Kittle in the 2019 season according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). So not only are you talking about an elite receiving weapon but a player who also opens up lanes for ball-carriers as well. How can you adequately put a price tag on that?

Put simply, you can’t. The right price in terms of value is more than $15 million per year, though — without a doubt. Subsequently, the 49ers may be paying their tight end handsomely but, with what he does for their offense in every facet, George Kittle is worth the money and more.