Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle is the tight end we thought Vernon Davis would be

Oct 18, 2019 at 10:54 AM

As the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins kicks off this Sunday afternoon, it will be the first time George Kittle and former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, will be playing on the same field at the same time.

When the 49ers selected tight end Vernon Davis as the 6th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, fans and coaches alike were expecting him to be a premiere passing game weapon, not just among tight ends, but among all players. His measurables coming out of college had never been seen before from the tight end position. Davis posted a 4.39 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical leap and recorded 33 reps in the bench press (225 lbs). In the past 14 years his combined results rank 1st, 3rd and 4th, respectively, among all tight end prospects, making him a coveted first-round prospect.

However, his first 2 years in the league did not live up to those expectations. After getting infamously kicked off the field by Mike Singletary in 2008, Davis had an emergence. From 2009-2013, he amassed over 4,000 yards receiving and 44 touchdowns, leading the team in both during that span. He became a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and helped lead the 49ers to back-to-back-to-back NFC championship game appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. However, even with all his success, Davis was never widely considered the premiere tight end in the league. While impressive, his performances still didn't quite match the expectations of a player who could so easily dominate games with his mix of size, strength and speed. Too often, Davis would run sloppy routes, drop easy passes, or try and finesse around defenders he easily overmatched in size. The hard-running style that coaches and fans fell in love with from his college highlights never appeared.

George Kittle, however, was not a top draft prospect coming out of Iowa. He had fewer catches in his entire 4-year tenure at Iowa than Vernon Davis did his senior year at Maryland. His measurables were good—not great—in most areas, and was thought to be too small to be a true tight end and too big to be a true receiver. So, with the 146th overall pick John Lynch selected George Kittle in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL draft.

In only 2 years George Kittle has established himself as one of the league's premiere, if not the premiere tight end in the league. Setting an NFL-record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end and surpassing Vernon Davis's best season by 412 yards. His hard-running style, great route running and reliable hands have made him one of the best receiving tight ends. He has also made a name for himself with his hard-finishing run-blocking. Being highlighted several times by NFL analyst Brian Baldinger.

George Kittle's mix of speed, strength, and determination have made him a true threat in the pass and run games with plays where it seems to take 3, 4 or 5 defenders to bring him down are an almost weekly occurrence.

In all ways, George Kittle is the tight end 49ers fans thought Vernon Davis would be.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Mike from Maui
    Love seeing all the VD support in the comments. George Kittle is a beast. Not sure what his contract situation is but I would love to see Vernon as our TE2 next year to finish out his career.
    Oct 20, 2019 at 4:58 AM
  • Bill
    I’m with everyone else. WAAAAYYYY too early to start anointing Kittle as the greatest thing since Captain Crunch. Can’t you dig any deeper into the upcoming game rather than a drool-fest over George Kittle? I mean, first were subjected to some fake faux pas over Kittle using a Canadian accent and now this? Webzone needs an Editor, BADLY, who knows how to assign reporters to real stories rather than some pablum-crap about a tight end who, so far, has ZERO playoff accomplishments. What an insult this is to VD.
    Oct 18, 2019 at 8:09 PM
  • Dietrich from Maui
    That's weak.. Vernon took one of the hardest hits in football history against kam chancellor for us and he was never the same. The catch 3 will always be in 49er history. If Vernon was in his prime now with these rules he would be a monster to deal with. Why do you think he still can play at 36? This is an insult to him and the 49ers really. Kittle is the best version of himself and Vernon will be a niner legend forever. Please just leave it at that..
    Oct 18, 2019 at 3:49 PM
  • Paul
    Just based on his physical gifts VD should have been so much better than Kittle. Kittle still needs to put in some good years to achieve what VD did. If VD had Kittle’s toughness and heart he could have been the best ever. I think many will admit that with all there physical gift VD underachieved and so far Kittle has overachieved. VD should have been a HOF
    Oct 18, 2019 at 3:13 PM
  • Coastal Dave
    Vernon was never a great tight end. Even when he led the league in TDs... His hands were mediocre, he had no ability to run a defender over (even though he was bigger and stronger than most), No ability to get his feet down on a sideline catch... But what really made me crazy was that he would NEVER lower his shoulder! He ran straight up into defenders. He had two great plays as a Niners in all those years: Vernon Post, and the end zone catch against the Panthers in the playoffs-when he finally got his feet down! Kittle has had way more great plays in just 2 1/2 years.
    Oct 18, 2019 at 2:15 PM
  • David O'Neal
    Vernon was never the same after Kam Chancellor knocked him on his ass. Smh
    Oct 18, 2019 at 2:06 PM
  • Jim
    Terrible article and very short sighted. VD was proven over many years and scored a lot more TDs than kittle does. Also VD played in a run first offense without an offensive genius play caller. Kittle is a very good player right now but needs to prove himself long term.
    Oct 18, 2019 at 1:56 PM
  • Tony
    Hold up... give it a few years my guy. Vernon was the truth for his first few years with the niners. he was basically our primary wr at one point just like kittle is today. he trailed off during our tanking years which you cant blame him for the dysfunction that he was surrounded by so give it some time before we start trying to cast VD aside.
    Oct 18, 2019 at 1:06 PM
    Response: Not saying VD was a bad player or casting him aside, just feel like he had all the potential in the world to be a complete game-wrecker. I would've love to see him run after the catch like Kittle does or block the way Kittle does. Kittle only threw up 18 reps on the bench press where Vernon put up 33, he should've manhandled everyone at the LOS in the run game and punished every tackler. I remember seeing a mic'd up with Patrick Willis where he was calling out to VD from the sidelines after a play telling him to just, "run that little guy over".

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