It's not exactly a bold take to put George Kittle in elite company when talking about the NFL's best tight ends. At the moment, he's either 1A or 1B to Travis Kelce in Kansas City at the position in the NFL. That said, Bill Belichick did raise some eyebrows with his comments about the star tight end when speaking to San Francisco reporters on Monday prior to the Patriots' Week 7 matchup with the 49ers on Sunday.
"Kittle is a great player," Belichick said, via ESPN.com. "He does everything well. I'd put him right at the top of the league there, period. His ability to run, catch, get open, after the catch, block, he does everything at a high level. He's as good as anybody that I've coached or as good as anybody that we've played against."
That's extremely high praise from Belichick, who has coached a number of legendary tight ends over the course of his career. That includes Rob Gronkowski, who is widely looked at as the best tight end of his generation and arguably of all-time. Belichick coached Gronkowski from 2010 to 2018 before the tight end decided to retire following New England's win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Over that stretch, Gronkowski earned three Super Bowl rings under Belichick, landed on the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, and is currently the Patriots' all-time leader in touchdown receptions (79).
Gronkowski, of course, has since come out of retirement to join fellow former Patriot Tom Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.
While Belichick has a history of heaping tremendous praise over his weekly opponent's star player, the rare air that the future Hall of Fame head coach put Kittle in is noteworthy.
That said, it's not like the Niners tight end hasn't earned it. Coming into 2020, no tight end in NFL history has more receiving yards (2,945) through his first three seasons than Kittle. He also broke Gronkowski's single-season record for most receiving yards (1,377) by a tight end in NFL history in 2018. Last season he earned first-team All-Pro honors and is currently on pace to go well over a thousand yards receiving for the third time in his career and shatter his career reception totals.
"If you pay too much attention to him, he creates opportunities for some of their other outstanding players," Belichick said. "And if you don't pay enough attention to him, then he can kill you. So he's in a great system, he's a great player. I don't think there's a tight end in the league, and we've seen a lot of good ones and had a lot of good ones, but I don't think there's anybody in the league that does everything overall as well as he does. He just really doesn't have any weak points at all. Just outstanding at every phase of the game."
Belichick will now spend the bulk of his week preparing for Kittle -- and old friend Jimmy Garoppolo -- leading up to when New England hosts the 49ers at Gillette Stadium for their Week 7 matchup that'll air on CBS.