Former 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, speaking with KNBR on Wednesday, said Kittle’s annual salary likely will be much closer to the level of a wide receiver than another tight end.
Over the last two seasons, Kittle has been the only player on the 49ers to top 1,000 receiving yards, and he clearly has been quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s No. 1 option on offense.
“No matter how you cut the data, it’s proven. George Kittle is one of the most talented players in the league, and most productive,” Young said. “They’re gonna have to pay him as a wide receiver, they’re gonna have to, and George knows that. The problem is, there might be a hybrid. I agree that he’s not going to necessarily make every dollar that a wide receiver makes, but he’s not going to get trapped into the tight-end spot.”
Currently, Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper has the highest annual salary among players in the position. He signed a four-year, $42 million deal with the team back in March. Earlier in the offseason, there were reports that Kittle could earn as much as $20 million per year. The Athletic reported several weeks ago that someone “in the know” said Kittle’s deal likely will land at around $13 million a year.
Kittle posted the highest Pro Football Focus grade of any tight end since the service started tracking data back in 2006.
“Being a captain, I want to be there for my team and I need to show the right leadership skills,” Kittle said.
Kittle’s agent, Jack Bechta, told the 49ers Insider Podcast back in June that his client’s skill set demanded a one-of-a-kind contract.
“George is a very special player. He needs a special contract,” Bechta said. “Those things take time for both sides. It’s a nice problem for everybody to have.
“At the end of the day, I trust the Niners will do the right thing and take good care of George, as they should, but I trust the process. I won’t comment where we’re at, or numbers or anything like that, but hopefully it gets done.”