With players reporting for training camp, the San Francisco 49ers are attempting to square away everything off the field.
That includes star tight end George Kittle‘s contract negotiations, which have been taking place over the course of the 2020 offseason. While no deal has been made, recent comments from 49ers general manager John Lynch seem to say that San Francisco is headed in the right direction.
Speaking to Bay Area radio station KNBR, Lynch explained where the 49ers and Kittle stand, and that he isn’t worried about San Francisco’s ability to get a deal done, and that that the former Iowa Hawkeye is planning on coming in for training camp.
“George is a pro, and he’s planning on coming and we’re going to continue to work,” Lynch said. “That’s our job, to get that done. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t, so we’re working towards that… I can tell you we’re working in earnest because it’s very important to us, and the good news is it’s very important to them that we agree because he loves being a 49er.”
Exactly what San Francisco fans want to hear.
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2021 Salary Cap Cuts and How That Affect Kittle’s Contract
Considering that the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association had not agreed on changes and adjustments due to COVID-19 until just recently, it only makes sense that Kittle’s contract has taken time.
In an unprecedented offseason, neither side wants to end up giving up too much and then regretting it when next season and its inevitable salary cap reductions arrive.
In the conversation, Lynch explains that the 49ers and other NFL teams expected a salary cap increase to $215 or 220 million, but the impact of COVID-19 is likely showing that the cap will drop to at least $175 million, where the NFLPA and NFL agreed in recent meetings.
“We were waiting for some of that certainly to guide us and how we structure a deal,” Lynch said. “Now we have that information. … We’ve traded ideas and things.”
This could mean that some of the estimates that predicted Kittle could make anywhere between $15-20 million are likely out of the question, but still expect Kittle to be the highest-paid tight end when a deal is finished.
Lynch’s Further Comments on Kittle
In case anyone had any doubt, Lynch and the 49ers believe in Kittle’s value and in getting a contract done.
Lynch even went on to say that it would be “silly” not to be able to come to terms on a deal, considering how much the 2019 All-Pro means to San Francisco.
“We’re hopeful and we’re going to work extremely hard,” Lynch said. “George is such a great fit for what we do. He’s a tremendous player. (I’m) sitting here looking at the vision statement for what we want in a player, and George checks every box. He’s tremendous. He’s what we want to be. So I think it would be silly not to figure that out, so we’re going to do our best to do just that.”
It may still take some time, but Lynch’s conversation and comments are only encouraging when it comes to Kittle’s new deal.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.