If you thought George Kittle was great in 2018 for the San Francisco 49ers, you will have a new appreciation for him after seeing this stat.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski held the distinction of best tight end in the NFL from 2010-17, but he wasn’t the best tight end in the NFL in 2018. The best tight end in the NFL in 2018 was San Francisco 49ers star George Kittle, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Kittle caught 88 passes in 2018, the most ever for a 49ers tight end, and succeeded despite being the clear top target in San Francisco’s offense last year, which also dealt with inconsistency and injury at the quarterback position.
Kittle finished last season with 1,377 yards receiving and five touchdowns, but it wasn’t even his overall stat line that surprised or impressed last season.
Kittle has become the NFL’s biggest monster after the catch, and other teams can’t do anything about it.
This statistic should blow everyone’s mind, and it’s certainly what separates Kittle from literally every other offensive weapon in the NFL.
In 2018, Kittle racked up 10.2 yards after the catch per reception. That was the most in the NFL by 1.2 yards (Evan Engram, 9.0).
Kittle was other-worldly after the catch in 2018, and what makes this stat so impressive is the number of targets and catches Kittle had last year compared to other guys at the top of this category. He had almost twice as many catches as Engram.
Obviously, the more catches you have, the less likely you are to be among league leaders in YAC. That number, like a baseball hitter with a ton of plate appearances, is liable to go down the more opportunities you get.
Kittle doesn’t care what’s likely, though.
Vance McDonald, who had a great season for the Steelers in 2018, averaged 7.9 yards after the catch per reception with 50 catches on the season.
DJ Moore, the Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick, averaged 7.9 yards after the catch on 55 catches. That was the best figure in the NFL among wide receivers.
In 2016, Julio Jones had a similar number of targets as Kittle (148 compared to Kittle’s 136) and caught the same number of passes (88). Jones averaged 5.9 yards after the catch that season.
Again, Kittle was at 10.2.
In the last three seasons, the highest figure in the NFL has barely exceeded 8.0.
In 2017, Golden Tate led players with at least 120 targets with 7.0 yards after the catch on average.
Kittle was the target of 25.56 percent of the 49ers’ passes last season. He caught 88 of their 331 completed passes (26.6 percent) which means that the 49ers should have led the NFL in first downs because if they threw the ball to George Kittle four straight plays, the odds are they would get a first down one out of every four based on his YAC ability alone.
Obviously with Kittle averaging almost 16 yards per reception, you could say just throwing to him every play could have been a first down, but this stat shows that Kittle’s ability to create after the catch is not only rare, it’s unparalleled in the NFL in recent years and possibly ever.
The sky is the limit for this YAC monster.