San Francisco 49ers’ Twitter awoke this previous Saturday and selected violence.
On the heels of an NFC Championship Sport look and with a seemingly vivid future forward, 49ers’ Sports activities Illustrated author Grant Cohn determined to serve up the spiciest of takes and declare that the 49ers ought to commerce former All-Professional tight finish George Kittle away ASAP.
Cohn is a improbable author and has some excellent materials, however it is a huge L. Kittle is a fully pivotal piece within the 49ers offense and buying and selling him away in the course of the crew’s Tremendous Bowl window can be a monumental mistake.
Cohn provides 10 explanation why buying and selling Kittle can be a very good determination. I’m going to element whether or not every is an effective cause to commerce Kittle.
1) “He’s missed 11 video games the previous two seasons”
That is true, however Kittle’s accidents have solely weakened his commerce worth. Bear in mind only a few years in the past when Jimmy Garoppolo’s commerce worth was at an all-time low due to his incapacity to remain wholesome. Previous to 2019, followers have been hoping that possibly the Niners may get a third-round decide for him. Just some years later, and a number of other can be shocked in the event that they don’t get a primary. He hasn’t performed a full season since 2019, thoughts you, however folks nonetheless count on an honest return for him. Why are folks so involved with Kittle’s well being but refuse to acknowledge the identical issues for different gamers? “Oh, as a result of when wholesome, Garoppolo wins video games.” When wholesome, George Kittle wins video games, too!
His blocking prowess alone is sufficient to make him a scorching commodity for any crew within the NFL, however the truth that he cannot solely block you into oblivion, but additionally rack up 100 yards by the air is what makes him a game-changer. Positive, he won’t play in a couple of video games, however in case you’re going to take a look at the attainable negatives of him lacking 1 / 4 of the season, it’s essential to take a look at the alternative aspect as nicely. What if he performs each sport? He’s nonetheless obtained rather a lot left within the tank and pairing him up with Deebo Samuel isn’t a foul concept.
2) “Even when he performed, he principally was injured the previous two seasons”
Yeah, and take a look at what he did. 910 yards in 14 video games. “Oh, however he solely scored six touchdowns.” That’s probably the most he’s ever recorded in a season, however that was by no means a criticism till now, huh? Plus, this was probably the most spread-out offense Kittle has skilled since coming into the league. Kittle needed to lastly share targets with an elite receiver and he nonetheless put up 910 yards and 6 touchdowns. If he did that whereas injured, I’d take a look at that and say “Wow! Think about what he may do if we obtained him wholesome.” Present some religion within the 49ers’ medical employees to get Kittle to 100% earlier than the season begins.
Oh, and by the way in which, Kittle has performed extra snaps than Deebo Samuel every of the final three seasons.
3) “His previous two accidents — damaged foot, strained calf — occurred merely from operating. The calf harm affected Kittle for the entire 2021 season”
It is a respectable argument. The best way Kittle sustained these accidents is tough to defend. Some persons are simply born with glass bones and paper pores and skin, and with Kittle pushing 30, it’s not tough to think about him struggling an identical harm subsequent season. Nevertheless, these accidents don’t diminish Kittle’s significance to the crew. Within the 11 video games Kittle has missed the previous two seasons, the 49ers have gone 4-7 and three of these wins are towards the Jets, Giants, and Bears. I wouldn’t precisely name these tough video games.
Kittle is a kind of guys, when wholesome, that takes the 49ers’ offense from subpar to stable. Sure, he’s being paid some huge cash, however he nonetheless regarded nice when he performed, and if he’s been taking part in damage like Cohn says, then that solely raises his ceiling. He might be even higher, and so long as the 49ers’ Tremendous Bowl window is open, which it is going to be for a couple of extra years, taking the danger that Kittle might be wholesome for many of the season is just not a foul concept.
4) “The 49ers gave Kittle $16 million per season as a result of they thought he’d be the No. 1 possibility of their passing sport, however now Deebo Samuel is the No. 1 possibility, Brandon Aiyuk is the second possibility and Kittle is the third possibility when wholesome”
The primary half is comprehensible. The second half…simply no. Kittle missed three video games and noticed simply twelve targets in the course of the ultimate three weeks of the common season. He nonetheless noticed ten extra targets than Aiyuk did. Sure, Aiyuk grew to become extra prevalent within the 49ers’ passing assault because the season progressed, however that was doubtless a symptom of Deebo Samuel’s utilization. As Samuel began lining up within the backfield an increasing number of usually, the primary extensive receiver duties have been positioned on Aiyuk’s shoulders extra usually. Ought to Samuel’s function within the backfield be extra restricted subsequent 12 months — very attainable so long as the 49ers re-sign Raheem Mostert and truly begin giving Trey Sermon touches — Aiyuk will revert again to his lesser function within the offense.
After all, if Kittle additionally will get wholesome, who is aware of what sort of manufacturing we may see from him. Defenses are going to key in on Samuel subsequent 12 months, so a wholesome Kittle may blow everybody’s expectations away. You want a dependable quantity two choice to have an efficient passing assault, and whereas Aiyuk is proficient, he hasn’t proven the consistency crucial to hold that load. Kittle remains to be probably the most dependable passing possibility exterior of Samuel.
5) “The whole lot Kittle does as a receiver, Samuel and Aiyuk do higher, together with operating after the catch. This previous season, Samuel averaged 10.4 YAC per catch, Aiyuk averaged 6.6 YAC per catch and Kittle averaged 6.5 YAC per catch”
YAC is an effective stat, but it surely’s not the top all-be all that determines the greatness of 1 participant over one other. You already know, Chargers’ halfback Austin Ekeler (625 YAC) had extra YAC than Justin Jefferson (485). Does that imply that Ekeler is the superior receiver? No. Jefferson is clearly a greater receiver in each aspect of the phrase, however the two operated in a different way inside their very own techniques. They’d completely different roles. The place Jefferson labored in a extra intermediate space, Ekeler normally caught passes behind the road of scrimmage, and was racking up YAC earlier than getting again to the down marker.
The identical argument applies to Kittle right here. The place Aiyuk and Samuel have performs particularly designed for them to get into the open area and swerve round defenders for YAC, Kittle doesn’t have these forms of performs drawn up for him. He will get hitches and 10-yard ins. The forms of performs the place linebackers come up and hit you instantly afterwards. Sure, Aiyuk would possibly face higher protection than Kittle since Aiyuk is lining up towards corners, however most of the time, Aiyuk goes to have a neater time avoiding defenders in his neighborhood than Kittle will. Plus, each Samuel and Aiyuk are a lot sooner than Kittle, so I’d count on them to have the ability to rack up yardage after the catch simpler.
Kittle is just not the identical sort of receiver as Aiyuk and Samuel, and thus shouldn’t be judged as such. You wouldn’t decide Samuel on his potential to run block, would you?
6) “The 49ers don’t give Kittle the ball often sufficient to justify paying him like a No. 1 extensive receiver.”
No. They don’t. He’s proper right here, however that is the soccer equal of a first-world downside. Lastly, the 49ers have an elite receiver on their crew…so that they don’t throw Kittle the ball as a lot as they used to. Wow, poor Niners! Let me play a tragic tune for you on the world’s smallest violin.
Let’s say for a second that the Baltimore Ravens signal Chris Godwin this offseason. I’m not saying it’s going to occur. I’m simply pretending right here.
Chris Godwin can be far and away the most effective receiver on that Baltimore crew. Thus, he’d get a very good quantity of targets. Abruptly, Mark Andrews’ goal share goes down…oh no! Horrible! Clearly, the Ravens aren’t throwing to him sufficient to warrant top-five tight finish cash. Simply loosen up, there aren’t sufficient targets to feed everybody on a regular basis.
What? You anticipated Kyle Shanahan to immediately pressure Jimmy G to drop again 45 instances a sport simply so Kittle would obtain extra targets? Hell no! They’re a run-heavy crew with an emphasis on YAC. More often than not in 2021, Kittle served as an especially priceless safety blanket for Garoppolo to fall again on ought to the protection goal Samuel. Understand that within the 4 video games Samuel both missed or obtained lower than 5 targets in, Kittle recorded 27 receptions for 379 yards and 4 touchdowns. If Deebo will get damage, who’s Trey Lance going to begin ? Aiyuk? Please.
Kittle isn’t only a nice safety blanket for a younger quarterback, however he’s the one particular person on the 49ers who has confirmed he’s able to dealing with the workload of a No. 1 possibility in a passing assault.
7) “Kittle isn’t pretty much as good as he was once they gave him his contract extension”
Yeah, this tends to be how contract extensions work and why so many gamers wish to see prolonged contracts as an alternative of one-year offers. They need job safety even when they fall off barely. You assume DeAndre Hopkins is pretty much as good as he was when the Houston Texans traded him to Arizona? No. Nicely, I assume it’s time for Arizona to maneuver on, huh? You don’t commerce away your star gamers in the course of your Tremendous Bowl window. You simply don’t.
And guess what, in case you’re noticing Kittle’s drop in manufacturing, so is each different crew within the league. However I’ll wager they’re prepared to pay Kittle a ton of cash for the potential he brings to the desk. If the 49ers are unwilling to match these costs for a similar potential, by all means, commerce him away, however you must acknowledge that the potential for Kittle to go completely ballistic remains to be there and that’s why he’s held in such excessive regard. It’s not my fault you simply don’t count on him to take action.
8) “The 49ers in all probability may get a late first-round decide or a Professional Bowl cornerback corresponding to Xavien Howard for Kittle in the event that they commerce him now”
Sure, the 49ers want assist in their secondary. Sure, Xavien Howard is a very good cornerback. Nevertheless, the 49ers additionally want cash. If the 49ers commerce Kittle, they’ll incur a dead cap hit of $28.9 million. In the event that they commerce for Xavien Howard, they’ll tackle Howard’s $16.3 million cap hit, and must pay him $28 million over the following two years as nicely. It is a financial wombo combo that will hit more durable than a MAC truck. It simply doesn’t work.
Holding on to Kittle for one additional 12 months provides the 49ers a possible out that will solely price the 49ers $4.5 million in lifeless cap, so even when Kittle performs like absolute trash this 12 months and the 49ers have to eliminate him, doing so after the 2022 season would take advantage of sense.
9) “If Kittle has yet another injury-filled season, the 49ers in all probability gained’t be capable to commerce him and his $16-million-per-season contract, as a result of everybody will see him as broken items who’s on the draw back of his profession”
I imply, it looks like Cohn already thinks this of Kittle, am I mistaken? We will play the “if” sport all day lengthy although. What if Kittle returns to his 2019 kind? Abruptly, preserving him was a improbable alternative. “Yeah, however what if he doesn’t?” It’s an limitless cycle.
It’s not Kittle’s fault Cohn continues to take a look at him like a glass half-empty. Kittle has outstanding expertise and as excessive a ceiling as anybody on the tight finish place not named Travis Kelce. Sure, his flooring is low, however solely due to accidents and like I mentioned within the earlier part, ought to that change into a difficulty in 2022, there’s already an out constructed into his contract.
“However why not simply do it now to keep away from the danger?” As a result of the 49ers are in the course of their Tremendous Bowl window! They’re upgrading at quarterback, whereas opening up a ton of cap house by ditching Garoppolo and are retaining all of their core items from their NFC Championship run final 12 months. That’s not a crew that must be buying and selling away one of many premier tight finish abilities within the NFL, irrespective of how injury-prone.
10) “Kittle will flip 29 this 12 months”
Travis Kelce turns 33 this 12 months. Darren Waller turns 30. Rob Gronkowski turns 33, and sure, he was very productive when wholesome this previous 12 months even in a loaded offense. The window for tight ends doesn’t shut at 30 prefer it does for operating backs or extensive receivers. Tight ends don’t need to retain their pace or elusiveness to be able to stay efficient. So long as they’ll block nicely and catch the ball, they normally keep on the prime of their sport.
In spite of everything, 49ers’ left sort out Trent Williams will flip 34 this 12 months and he hasn’t misplaced a step. Even when all Kittle can do is block, he’s remarkably gifted in that division. Ought to he be making $16 million a 12 months if that’s all he can do? No, however as I’ve mentioned, the 49ers have an out in his contract following subsequent season. That might be the time to drop him if he appears slower.
Having a litany of nice blockers isn’t a foul factor in a zone-run scheme. On the very least, Kittle can present a large increase in that division, which shouldn’t be ignored in an offense that’s set to function a second-year operating again and a second-year quarterback in 2022. Shanahan and John Lynch spent three first-round picks to get Trey Lance, and thus, ought to wish to shield him in any respect prices. Kittle supplies nice safety and an excellent set of fingers for Lance to fall again on if want be. Buying and selling Kittle is an atrocious transfer with so a few years of elite soccer left to be performed.
Because the saying goes, “It’s higher to make a commerce one 12 months too early, than one 12 months too late,” however when your crew is as proficient as San Francisco’s, preserving the gamers that put you over the sting must be your No. 1 precedence.