Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

George Kittle the lone 49ers player named to PFF’s inaugural All-Clutch Team

May 26, 2020 at 2:36 PM--

It's the offseason, and there probably won't be any practices across the NFL until training camp, at the earliest, due to precautions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. What does that mean for fans? Probably even more offseason rankings and honorary teams than usual.

The latest one comes from Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, who this week created the analytics site's inaugural All-Clutch Team. He created an honorary roster made up of players who graded the best in the fourth quarter and overtime of one-score games during the 2019 season.

Linsey admits that's a small sample size, but a fun exercise nonetheless.

There was just one San Francisco 49ers player on the All-Clutch Team, and that is All-Pro tight end George Kittle, who has cemented himself as one of the most exciting young stars in the league.

"Nothing changed for Kittle when things were tight late in the game," explained Linsey. "He was still the best player at the tight end position after the catch (position-high 113 yards after the catch and 8.7 yards after the catch per reception) and a nuisance to bring down in the open field (four missed tackles forced).

"As good as he was as a receiver, Kittle was equally as effective as a blocker in the run game. His run-blocking grade in the fourth quarter and overtime of one-score games ranked second at the position among qualifiers — a throwback when it comes to a tight end position that has shifted more towards big slot receivers in recent years."

Kittle was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded offensive player last season (95.0 in the regular season; 94.4 including playoffs), and the analytics site gave the tight end the highest combined three-year grade by a non-quarterback from the 2017 draft. His 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.

In 2018, Kittle set a new NFL single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377 yards. He 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.

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