49ers roster: Power ranking 5 most important players entering 2021

San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 4: George Kittle

The heart and soul of the 49ers, San Francisco sorely missed George Kittle at tight end for half the season in 2020. While there were a few injuries that accounted for the more stagnant offense last season, Kittle’s absence was top of that list.

Kittle is one of the top tight ends in the NFL, if not already the best. Niners fans don’t need to be reminded about how he can catch as well as any top-tier receiver while blocking like an extra lineman on the field.

Kittle will be needed for two reasons this season. One of them is the usual reason of needing him on the field to win games, as you expect for anyone that’s a star offensive weapon.

But Kittle also has the rare ability of being exceptionally productive with any quarterback he plays with. Former backup quarterbacks Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard weren’t the most talented quarterbacks in the world, but Kittle still produced results with them.

The 49ers have their presumptive heir to the throne in rookie quarterback in Trey Lance, and having a weapon like Kittle available is going to be absolutely vital to his development.

Lance may not necessarily start in 2021, but he may still be on the field nonetheless at points.

Kittle needs to be there by his side.