49ers’ top 4 MVP candidates: Can anyone beat George Kittle?

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

George Kittle seems to be the favorite to be the 49ers’ MVP in 2021, but there are some other players who could end up being the team’s best.

If it fully functions on all cylinders, the San Francisco 49ers‘ 2021 offense could be prolific.

This is predicated, of course, on the health of the team, which wasn’t a favorable factor last season. The Niners lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, running back Raheem Mostert and wide receiver Deebo Samuel for extensive periods of time, so it’s no surprise head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad finished 21st in scoring a year ago.

It’s usually a trend to pick an offensive player as a team’s MVP, particularly in an offense-driven league. Yet San Francisco also has a number of defensive players who could wind up securing team MVP accolades this season.

Sure, it’s hard to project anyone else but Kittle receiving this honor. He is, without much doubt, the face of the franchise right now and easily the top offensive threat.

But there are some players who could potentially challenge Kittle for the rights to be a team MVP.

49ers MVP Candidate No. 4: Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk

Despite his injuries, Kittle still managed 634 receiving yards over just eight games played. But the 49ers’ leading pass-catcher was actually then-rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who netted 60 receptions for 748 yards and seven all-purpose touchdowns in 2020, threatening Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards by a Niners rookie.

And Aiyuk did that over just 12 games with three different quarterbacks trying to get him the ball.

Heading into year two of his pro career, Aiyuk could take a massive leap. For starters, a healthy offense will take pressure off Aiyuk from effectively being the lone constant on offense, while some consistent quarterback play should make his life easier, too.

Sure, Kittle could wind up threatening for San Francisco’s leading yards-getter through the air this season.

But if there’s one player who’ll effectively challenge Kittle for the 49ers’ leading receiver role, it’s Aiyuk, which will put him into the team’s MVP conversation.