As George Kittle enters the final year of his rookie contract with the San Francisco 49ers, it's clear the Pro Bowl tight end is seeking a record-setting deal. His agent, Jack Bechta, has openly called Kittle a "unicorn" -- or unique for his position -- and declared that he's pursuing money never seen by the TE market. But could Kittle actually demand an extension equivalent to that of a top wide receiver?

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco, that's almost a given.

"He's just one of a kind," Maiocco told Will Brinson on Tuesday's Pick Six Podcast (listen below and subscribe here for daily NFL goodness). "He's asked to run the routes, produce like a top wide receiver while also playing the position in the run game like an offensive linemen."

In other words, no matter what kind of offense the 49ers run under Kyle Shanahan, Kittle is going to be a "major part" of it. Forty-five passes for Jimmy Garoppolo? He's probably going to catch most of them. Forty-five handoffs to San Francisco's stable of running backs? He's probably going to block for most of them. And beyond that, Maiocco added, Kittle is also a hit inside the locker room, making him a sure bet to become one of the club's highest-paid players.

"When you look at Austin Hooper, who gets $10.5 million a year, and George Kittle has made not much over his first three years ... I mean, he's absolutely underpaid," Maiocco said. "Is $10.5 million really the floor? No, I think the floor is a lot higher than that, whether it's $13M, $14M, $15M, $16M. (Arik) Armstead's making $17 million. I mean, who's more important to the team?"

The one holdup to a lucrative deal, Maiocco noted, could be the 2021 salary cap, which isn't likely to rise after COVID-19's impact on this season. But even that, he said, might not prevent Kittle's representation from demanding every penny he's worth. An "act of God," after all, doesn't change the fact the young Pro Bowler is crucial to the Niners' offensive success.

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah had previously suggested Kittle's next deal will be worth closer to $20M than $15M per season. That kind of annual salary would put the TE on pace with the game's top WRs in terms of per-year pay. As CBS Sports contributor Joel Corry pointed out, the top 15 highest-paid WRs average about $16M per season, with only the top five -- Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill -- eclipsing $17M per year.

An extension worth $17M per year would make Kittle one of the four highest-paid players on the 49ers, behind only Garoppolo and pass rusher Dee Ford, both of whom landed five-year contracts.