George Kittle can take serious leap in 2024 toward Hall of Fame candidacy

George Kittle has a ways to go before he's a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate. But, if 2024 winds up being yet another year consistent with his prior production, it'll do a lot of good.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85)
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

George Kittle is one of many current 49ers players who could wind up being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and an excellent 2024 campaign would help.

Is San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle a bona fide Hall of Famer in the making?

Possibly. But he's not anywhere close just yet.

The Niners are laden with superstar talent as they gear up for the 2024 season. While a Super Bowl is the ultimate goal in mind, plenty of others could be eyeing other individual accolades that cement them as all-time greats.

With regard to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one might argue San Francisco's three best current candidates on that trajectory are left tackle Trent Williams, running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive end Nick Bosa, the latter two both having been the Offensive and Defensive Player of the year, respectively, while Williams annually retains his claim as the best offensive lineman in the league.

But, what about Kittle?

Is George Kittle a Hall of Famer in the making?

If Kittle was to shockingly announce his retirement right now (please, don't hope for this), the likelihood of induction into Canton would be low.

At least according to Pro Football Reference's Hall of Fame monitor, which uses a bunch of data to put together a score that measures such candidacy.

Currently, per PFR, Kittle's score is 37.60, while the average for tight ends is 97.46.

As of now, there are eight tight ends enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Others, like now-retired tight end Rob Gronkowski and the Kansas City Chiefs' star, Travis Kelce, will be named to the hall, while San Diego Chargers legend Antonio Gates should be. Even the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten should be, too.

All but one (Ozzie Newsome) had at least five Pro Bowl accolades to his name, and all but Newsome had at least two first-team All-Pro nods during their respective careers, too.

Kittle has checked off both of those boxes, which is great, and he also once set the all-time single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377 back in 2018, which has since been broken but will nevertheless help.

But Kittle's 6,274 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns are still way down on the list of all-time stats at the position, meaning he'll probably need to continue playing at a high level for at least a few more years to solidify his HOF candidacy.

What's working against George Kittle's Hall of Fame bid?

Aside from an injury-plagued 2020 campaign, Kittle has produced at least 700 receiving yards every year since joining the league in 2017, and he's reached the 1,000-yard plateau three times already.

Now 30 years old, it's safe to worry about Kittle's long-term durability, especially knowing he has a bit of an injury reputation and is also coming off core muscle surgery that resulted in a serious loss of weight.

Related story: George Kittle joins the Niner Noise Podcast to talk Brock Purdy, 49ers

Additionally, considering the plethora of offensive weapons at the 49ers' disposal, including McCaffrey and wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, Kittle isn't necessarily the go-to option in the receiving game.

Still, his all-around play and popularity both help his trajectory, and the fact he's regularly in the conversation for the best tight end in the league on a year-to-year basis will boost his stock, too.

So would a Super Bowl ring.

As for 2024, a mirror image of previous campaigns would likely boost his Hall of Fame candidacy to a level much closer to the other eight inductees and parallel those others who'll likely wind up in Canton, too.

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