49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has made tight end George Kittle a focal point of his offense, so his reaction to the news that Kittle won’t be going anywhere for a long time was predictable.
Kittle signed a five-year, $75 million extension with the Niners on Thursday to become the highest-paid tight end in football. Kittle’s heading into his fourth season and there was time to get a deal done, but Shanahan said Kittle is the kind of player who “makes you want to get that stuff done when you might not actually have to right now.”
“He’s earned it,” Shanahan said on KNBR, via NBCSportsBayArea.com. “He does everything the right way. It starts with how talented and good you play on Sunday, which he does better than any tight end in the league. But after that. The way the guy takes care of himself. The way he works year-round to put his body in a position to stay healthy with the way he plays. It makes you believe in the guy. It makes you believe in not what he has done but what he’s going to do. When you have a guy like that, it makes it a lot easier for the owner to commit to him like that. We were just pumped to get it done because it’s something we all were dying to get something like that done with a player like George, and thankfully we did.”
Kittle’s deal raised the bar for tight ends, which is something that will make him a popular player with others who play the position. Based on Shanahan’s response, it probably won’t make him as popular as he already is around the 49ers.