CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco released his list of 10 breakout players for the 2018 season, and two San Francisco 49ers second-year players were featured. Prisco believes tight end George Kittle and safety Adrian Colbert showed future Pro Bowl potential last season and are poised for big years in 2018.
The 49ers fifth-round pick impressed back in training camp and developed into a key contributor in 2017. According to Pro Football Focus, Kittle became just the ninth tight end over the past decade to reach 500 yards. Prisco predicts a boost in Kittle's numbers in 2018.
Prisco: "As a rookie, Kittle caught 43 passes for 515 yards (yards-per-catch average of 12.0) with two touchdowns. But he flashed star potential at times, including in Week 17 when he had four catches for 100 yards against the Rams, with one catch going for 44 yards. Kittle saw his snap counts dwindle a bit down the stretch for some reason in 2017, but I expect him to be the primary pass-catching tight end this season for the 49ers. My guess at his numbers: 64 catches, 770 yards and seven touchdowns."
Colbert is coming off of a stellar rookie campaign. The seventh-round gem filled in for the injured Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt and was named a starter by Week 10. He amassed 30 total tackles, five passes defended, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a rookie. Colbert's emergence led to Ward's move from free safety back to cornerback this offseason. Here's Prisco's outlook on the 49ers late-round find:
Prisco: "Colbert is a player that other coaches kept mentioning to me late last season as a potential big-time starter. He came on strong for the 49ers last season as a 2017 seventh-round pick. Colbert's big-hitting ability showed up in the run game – his nickname is "The Punisher" – but he also has the ability to play well in coverage. With Colbert's emergence after Jimmie Ward went down with an injury, the plan now is to give Ward some reps at corner this year. That speaks volumes about a seventh-round rookie. Keep an eye on this thumper out of the University of Miami."