BOSTON (CBS) -- Heading into Sunday's matchup with San Francisco, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has had a lot of nice things to say about the 49ers and their star power. He gushed about Jimmy Garoppolo on Tuesday morning, but his love for the former Patriots quarterback is nothing compared to what Belichick has had to say about tight end George Kittle.
Belichick started his Kittle lovefest on Monday, when he put the two-time Pro Bowler at the top of the NFL's talent list. He even hinted that Kittle is as good as Rob Gronkowski was during his record-setting time with the Patriots.
"He's as good as anybody that I've coached or as good as anybody that we've played against," Belichick told reporters on Monday.
He continued to pile on the praise for Kittle on Tuesday. Though he wasn't about to put the 27-year-old at the top of the great tight end list, Belichick made it clear that Kittle is heading down that path.
"There have been a lot of great tight ends through the years. I would just say Kittle is very impressive. He does everything well. It's hard to compare his career with other players that have played 10, 12 years and so forth. What he's able to do and what he's done in our exposures to him is pretty impressive," Belichick said on his Tuesday morning video conference. "He's very good at everything – passing game, running game, run after catch, blocking, effort, big-play ability, you name it. He pretty much excels in every area.
"I think when you look at complete tight ends, he certainly stacks up there to this point from what he's been able to do with just about anybody," Belichick continued. "Certainly, put guys like [Mark] Bavaro and going back to earlier in pro football – 60s, 70s, 80s – where tight ends did everything. There was no receiving tight end or blocking tight end. Those guys, they lined up there for every play – the John Mackey's and the Mike Ditka's and great players like that that are in the Hall of Fame. They lined up on every play and blocked and ran and caught and made big plays and blocked defensive ends and everything else. So, you don't see as many of those type of players these days, but certainly Kittle looks like he could do everything that you would want a tight end to do. "
Kittle missed two games earlier this season, but he's been outstanding when on the field. He had a monster game against the Eagles in Week 4, catching all 15 of the passes that went his way for 183 yards and a touchdown. (Somehow, San Fran lost that game.) He is coming off a seven-catch, 130-yard, one touchdown game against the L.A. Rams in Week 6, and has 30 catches for 380 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his four games this season.
Kittle's 2,945 receiving yards in his three seasons are more than any other tight end over that span. He even broke Gronk's single-season record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377 yards in 2018. So putting him up there with the likes of Gronk really isn't too farfetched.
Add in the fact that he's done all of that in addition to opening things up for San Francisco's other playmakers with his blocking at the line, and the Patriots have a very dangerous weapon to try to contain this weekend.
Tune in to Sunday's Patriots-49ers clash on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m., and after the game switch over to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!
for more features.