Is George Kittle a future Hall of Famer yet?
By: Jake Rajala
The San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle has been one of the very best NFL players over the past four seasons. The 49ers TE had career-high marks in a few categories: receiving yards (1,377 yards), receptions (88), and targets (136) in 2018. It was safe to say that he blossomed as an all-around TE after his second season. Kittle was ranked as the second-best player by Pro Football Focus in 2019 and 2020 combined.
In 2021, Kittle had a Pro Bowl-caliber season (910 yards and 6 touchdowns in 14 games). There isn’t any sign that the 28-year-old TE is slowing down at this point in his career. With that enunciated, the ultimate question for the 49ers elite TE is none other than: Is George Kittle bound to make it into Canton? Well, I’m going to untwine his five-year resume to the first five seasons of the Canton-bound Antonio Gates.
Here is a closer look at how successful Kittle has been in his 49ers career thus far:
- Three Pro Bowl selections
- 4,489 receiving yards
- 20 touchdowns
Here is the overview of Antonio Gates’s first-five seasons in the NFL:
- Three All-Pro selections
- Four Pro Bowl selections
- 4,382 receiving yards
- 43 receiving touchdowns
It’s clear that Gates enjoyed the taste of All-Pro honors a lot more than Kittle in the early stages of his career. Yet, Kittle had remarkably similar receiving yard numbers as Gates. It should also be noted that Kittle may not have been named All-Pro, but his recognition for being a very impressive all-around TE has been noticed by the football community.
All in all, I really feel like Kittle should feel optimistic about his path to finish with a gold jacket. His injury issues could be reflected in numerous ways. He can certainly expect to be more efficient if he has fewer injury habits than in the last few seasons, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if his injury concerns follow him and potentially force him to have an early retirement.
The last point that should make Kittle and 49ers fans encouraged is that he is playing with Kyle Shanahan and a talented roster. Gates may have been a greek-god like figure at TE, but he didn’t play with a genius head or a stacked team that even reached the big dance. If Kittle can have four or five more outstanding seasons while winning an SB ring with his mythical coach and impressive roster, Kittle should be a clear-cut HOF TE. If he doesn’t win a SB, I still expect him to have many more impressive seasons and get into the HOF.