49ers roster: Why 2022 is so vital to All-Pro tight end George Kittle

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) and quarterback Trey Lance (5) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

Why 2022 is so crucial for George Kittle, 49ers

Normally, we use this portion of our annual player breakdown to describe either his role or his chances of making the 53-man roster.

We don’t need to do this with George Kittle. He’ll be on the roster and will be expected to provide a pivotal impact.

Instead, let’s describe why Kittle needs to revert back to being a primary pass-catching threat for the 49ers this season, and specifically why that benefits both parties.

From the Niners’ perspective, they need the tight end to be that playmaking safety blanket for Trey Lance, assisting with his maturation and prowess as an indication the team is in great hands with its young signal-caller.

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For Kittle, he’s still going to be a relatively affordable player in 2022, set to make only $7.68 million this season before his contract leaps up significantly to $18.4 million in 2023, per Over the Cap.

Simply put, if Kittle winds up having either a pedestrian-like or injury-plagued 2022 campaign, it won’t be long before fans and analysts alike start wondering if he’s worth the cost.

Let’s bank on the positive outcome, though, especially if we’re to assume Lance winds up doing what many a young quarterback does with a star tight end.

Using him frequently, of course.

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