No. 1: 49ers Tight End George Kittle
Top players make top-end plays, and there’s no reason to leave George Kittle off this list.
And no reason to assume he won’t be the 49ers’ best offensive threat in 2021 either.
True, injuries forced Kittle out of the lineup for half of last season. Yet he still managed to record 48 catches for 634 yards and two touchdowns. Extrapolated over the course of a full 16-game season, that would have equated to 96 catches, 1,268 yards and four scores if he had stayed healthy and continued contributing at that pace.
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That’s receiving weapon No. 1-type stats right there.
Kittle’s record-setting 2018 campaign, also with three different quarterbacks, is indicative of the fact he can produce regardless of who’s under center. While the early indications are for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners should take some comfort knowing rookie quarterback Trey Lance, whenever he winds up starting, shouldn’t have any trouble relying on Kittle either.
Sure, it’s possible the healthy presence of players like Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel will ultimately cut into the total number of targets Kittle may receive this year. But even when San Francisco had a relatively healthy deployment of offensive weapons in 2019 during its Super Bowl run, Kittle remained productive and crested the 1,000-yard mark despite missing two games.
As long as Kittle stays healthy this season, there’s no reason to assume he won’t wind up being a massive contributor to Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
And quite possibly the 49ers’ leading offensive yards-getter.