No. 2 player who benefits from Trey Lance: TE George Kittle
Like Deebo Samuel, All-Pro tight end George Kittle is in one of those categories where it almost doesn’t matter who’s under center. Case in point, back in 2018 after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3, Kittle went on to set the single-season record for tight end receiving yards with 1,377 yards at the hands of backup quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens.
However, it’s possible Trey Lance unlocks a level of play from Kittle not seen since 2018.
For starters, young quarterbacks often look for their tight ends, and Lance will fall into this category. Additionally, the big-bodied presence of a tight end is perfect for mobile quarterbacks who extend plays with their legs, which is something ESPN’s Mina Kimes pointed out already (h/t Niners Nation):
"What’s going to be different, and what really intrigues me is, what Trey Lance brings as a play-maker. We have not really seen George Kittle play with that type of quarterback. Think of Kansas City. How many times have we seen the play break down, and Travis Kelce finds a way to get open because of his connection with Patrick Mahomes? If they can approximate anything close to that, and I think Kittle of course has that ability, this offense is going to be really scary."
Contrasting Kelce and Kittle, at least over the last two years, the former always had a knack for taking advantage of better quarterbacking, whereas Kittle made the most with Garoppolo, Mullens and Beathard under center, namely in 2020.
Perhaps, as Kimes suggested, a Lance-Kittle tandem won’t fall far off from where a Mahomes-Kelce relationship is now.