Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

49ers, George Kittle ‘not close at all’ in contract talks, reports Mike Silver

May 29, 2020 at 4:34 PM--

George Kittle is due to receive a big-time contract, and the San Francisco 49ers will have to make him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL to secure him for the long-term future. It doesn't sound like there has been any movement on that front, though, according to Michael Silver of NFL Network.

Silver reports that the two sides aren't any closer to getting a new deal done. And as far as Kittle becoming the league's top-paid tight end, the player's agent doesn't sound too concerned about what others within the position group are making.

"They are not close at all," Silver reported on NFL Network. "There were some preliminary talks back in February. Nothing for the last couple of months. ... This is a difficult situation because, during a pandemic, owners are not super eager to shell out massive deals. There's a lot of uncertainty. So I'm not sure how much this situation can be attributed to the unique COVID-19 situation, and how much of it is just a gap in how each side views this.

"I know there's a lot of good intention. You talk to the 49ers, they say, 'We want him. We will get this done.' I know George Kittle wants to be there. But they have a ways to go in terms of figuring out his value."

Silver notes that much of the problem surrounds Kittle being so much more than a tight end. That blurs the line when it comes to his value. Do you pay him like a top tight end or like a wide receiver? Or do you meet somewhere in the middle?

"I don't think the tight end market is cutting it," Silver added. "I've been talking a lot to his agent, Jack Bechta, over the past few months, and he has consistently said, 'I don't care about the tight end market. I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal.'

"And I tend to agree with him here. He is their No. 1 target, so important in that locker room, and clearly he is doing something that transcends what a typical tight end does."

General manager John Lynch in April sounded confident that the 49ers would be able to get a deal with Kittle done.

"George isn't going anywhere," Lynch said. "We're going to work hard to try to get it done. I think they've got motivation just to really reset the tight end market, as do we, for him. It's just finding that sweet spot, where that is.

"Like I said, he's not going to go anywhere. When that happens? I don't know. But we're working hard, as are they, to try to make that happen. George is going to be a part of the 49ers for a long, long time."

Kittle is widely considered one of the top tight ends in the NFL, if not the top tight end in the league. In 2018, he set a new NFL single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377 yards. Kittle followed that up last season with another 1,000-plus-yard campaign, his second straight Pro Bowl selection, and a first-team All-Pro nod.

Kittle's 2,945 total receiving yards are the most by a tight end during the player's first three seasons, surpassing the 2,774-yard mark set by Mike Ditka from 1961 through 1963.

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