San Francisco 49ers George Kittle was their best receiver for the past two seasons. In 2020 he’ll need some help and the 49ers should look no further than the NFL draft.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is the most versatile player in the league. He can run, catch and we all know he loves to block. But how much more can this guy take, especially in the passing game? Eventually, the 26-year-old All-Pro will start slowing down, and if he keeps doing everything for the team, his decline might come sooner than we want.
This is where the 49ers drafting a wide receiver comes into play.
Ideally, they keep the 13th or 31st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and get some help on the outside. But even if they decide they want to trade it in exchange for more selections in the middle rounds, as long as they take a receiver, everything will be fine.
They just need to help Kittle out.
The past two years, Kittle has been the leading receiver on the 49ers. In 2018, he had 1,377 yards, which was by far the most on the team and set a record for most in a single season by a tight end. The next closest among Niners pass catchers that year was wide receiver Kendrick Bourne with 487.
If you don’t want to do the math at home, it’s a difference of 890 yards. Yikes.
This past season, Kittle once again topped the 1,000-yard mark with a total of 1,053. This time around, he had a bit more help. Rookie receiver Deebo Samuel finished off the year with 802 yards. The difference between the two was only 251 yards. Much more manageable and reasonable numbers.
If you want to play the “what if?” game, receiver Emmanuel Sanders finished the season with 502 yards. He only played in 10 games with San Francisco. What if he played the whole season with the team? Would he have been the top receiver? Depending on how this offseason shakes out, we may never find out.
As you can see, this is where the draft comes in to play. It’s not a guarantee Sanders, a free agent, returns. Samuel is hoping to avoid the sophomore jinx. Dante Pettis isn’t working out as the organization has hoped. And we still don’t know much about Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor. We’ve seen Taylor play in about 29 games, and Hurd missed the whole year due to injury.
Niner Noise’s Josh Altorfer took a look at some of the prospective receivers in 2020 and tried to find who would be best for the Kyle Shanahan system. That’s the key: finding someone who can play in a very complicated system.
This year’s draft class is full of talent in the wide receiver department. If the 49ers had more picks and more players to trade, their target should have been Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. He’ll be taken well before the 31st pick, but if there is a way for the 49ers to make it work, they need to explore it.
The 49ers haven’t had a solid No. 1 receiver in a long time. You’d have to go back to the mid-2010s to find some consistency in the receiving core. Anquan Boldin was the last wideout to lead the team in receiving yards for consecutive years.
Kittle needs help. If not right now, he will down the road. The style of game he plays might not allow him to play for a long time. He loves to be physical and he showed it on numerous pancakes throughout the year.
But the 49ers will want to lessen his workload throughout the year to keep him healthy for playoff runs.
It’s still uncertain what’s going to happen with the 2020 NFL Draft. But until we get official word from the NFL, we’ll just hope the 49ers can make a solid deal to find some help for George Kittle.