George Kittle, 49ers 'very close' on long-term contract

The 49ers and George Kittle have yet to strike an agreement on a long-term deal, but they're getting closer.

NFL Network's Michael Silver reported the two sides are "making progress" on a long-term deal, which is on track to make Kittle the highest-paid tight end in league history. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport also reported that the two sides were "very close" to a deal, according to sources.

Kittle, meanwhile, was irritated by internet rumors of an impending deal, responding to one report with a sarcastic tweet and blanked-face emoji:

Silver's report is more significant than two participants simply "making progress" because of just how far away the parties were just two weeks ago. Silver reported July 31 "a pretty significant disconnect philosophically" remained between the Niners and the star tight end, signaling the possibility of a drawn-out negotiation process. Kittle viewed himself as more than a tight end, while the 49ers were more interested in simply making him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.

The tight end market has essentially been stagnant since Jimmy Graham's whopper of a deal in 2014, with Cleveland's March signing of Austin Hooper just barely passing that mark. Passing such a mark wouldn't exactly make Kittle among the league's richest, even after he landed inside the top 10 of the most recent NFL Top 100.

Kittle is a catalyst in San Francisco, but it's fair to wonder just how much value a tight end possesses. It seems as if San Francisco has come around at least a little on how important he is to their future. Niners general manager John Lynch said on July 29 it was about "finding the right number" with Kittle's position and his contributions making that task "tricky."

This could all be solved fairly soon. Either way, it's going to mean San Francisco will be paying Kittle a whole lot more than his $2.133 million base salary for 2020.

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