George Kittle is easily in the top-three discussion for NFL tight ends heading into 2021, but let’s break down why the 49ers star will be No. 1.
There haven’t been too many massive changes to the rankings of the NFL’s top tight ends over the past few years. Going by most analysts’ accounts and projections, it’s typically a two-way battle between the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and the San Francisco 49ers‘ own, George Kittle.
Some may even throw in Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, too. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see other newish faces added to the discussion like T.J. Hockenson of the Detroit Lions or even the high-profile rookie, the Atlanta Falcons’ Kyle Pitts.
But nearly everyone understands this is a battle between Kelce and Kittle with Waller being a dark-horse possibility to usurp both.
Since this is a Niners site, we have to be biased. But aside from the fandom, there are specific reasons why Kittle will be named the league’s No. 1 tight end by 2021’s conclusion.
Sure, Kelce might get more pure receiving yards and touchdowns, and Waller could get plenty of yards, too.
In terms of the best all-around tight end, however, it’s going to be Kittle. Here’s why.
No. 3: George Kittle will be eager to reclaim single-season receiving record
Remember 2018? Kelce broke former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s single-season record for most receiving yards by a tight end, only to relinquish that record to Kittle merely hours later, as Kittle set the new benchmark in Week 17 with 1,377 single-season yards despite San Francisco fielding three quarterbacks that season.
Well, Kelce reclaimed it a year ago, putting up 1,416 receiving yards over 15 games played. Kittle, who was out for eight games with injuries, had no way to defend or compete with Kelce’s push.
And Kittle was even among the first to congratulate Kelce afterward.
Looking to stay fully healthy, Kittle will now want to reclaim this record again, fueling what’s become a fun rivalry between these two standouts and off-field friends.
If anyone currently around the league could break Kelce’s single-season record, it’s Kittle. Should he do so, there won’t be any doubt about who’s No. 1.