Ranking 49ers 5 best NFL Draft picks by John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and general manager John Lynch (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and general manager John Lynch (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, 49ers
George Kittle #85 San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

No. 1: TE George Kittle

If 49ers tight end George Kittle had been a first- or second-round draft pick, then you could have made him and Nick Bosa 1A and 1B on this list.

But the fact the Niners drafted Kittle, a little-used pass catcher out of Iowa, with one of their two fifth-round picks (146th overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft immediately catapults him to No. 1.

And he might have been if he were even just a good tight end. Instead, he’s the best player at his position in the NFL and, at least according to Pro Football Focus, the best player in the entire league, regardless of position.

The accolades are remarkable given the guy was compared to Charles Clay by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein coming into the draft and was considered the type of athlete who could be “an effective move tight end,” but maybe little else.

Effective, of course, is now an understatement.

Kittle set the record for most receiving yards by a tight end through his first three seasons, passing Hall of Famer Mike Ditka for the lead in that statistic. He also joined Kellen Winslow and Jimmy Graham as the only others at the position to catch more than 200 passes in that time frame.

The now-fourth-year pro also holds the single-season record for reception yards by a tight end with 1,377 in 2018, breaking Rob Gronkowski’s old mark of 1,327 set back in 2011, which also happened to be the former Patriots’ second year in the league.

To top that all off, Kittle is also one of the most willing blockers in the league and seems to enjoy that part of his game, which often ends in some of the most spectacular ways:


Kittle isn’t only the best draft pick in the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era, he’s also one of the biggest steals in NFL Draft history.

Next. 2020 NFL Combine: 5 wide receivers who should impress 49ers. dark

It’s still amazing the Niners were able to grab him where they did in the draft, and that, combined with the massive nature of his production and just how much fun it is watching him play football, makes him No. 1 on this list.