San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle has totaled 165 yards on 17 receptions through three weeks of the 2019 season – a slight variation from his 191 yards on 12 catches at this point last year that lead to his record breaking campaign. While these aren't the stats that are leading the NFL, what's most impressive about Kittle's start to 2019 is the tight end's impact when the ball is not in his hands. Through four weeks, Kittle has earned the highest overall grade of any player in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. His 92.7 grade beat out NFL studs including Khalil Mack (91.8), Drew Brees (91.0) and Calais Campbell (90.7).
Coming off of a historic season where the tight end put up 1,377 receiving yards in 2018, what stands out most isn't what's shown in the stat column. San Francisco's tight end has been paramount as a run blocker, opening up the 49ers ground game that has put up 525 yards and four touchdowns through the team's three contests.
"There are some guys that just as blockers, the best blocking tight ends that I've had, if we just went off that, are usually just blocking tight ends," Kyle Shanahan said. "Kittle, for him to do what he's done in the pass game here in these last two years, I'd say he's the best blocking tight end who's a pass-game guy also."
Kittle also earned the nod as the NFL's best tight end through the first quarter of the season in PFF's First Quarter All-Pro Team. In addition to leading all players in overall grade, he also leads all tight ends in receiving grade (92.5) with three contested catches and zero drops through four weeks according to the football analytics site.
Of note, Kittle also currently leads San Francisco's pass catchers in targets (20), receptions (17) and receiving yards (165).