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George Kittle to Opt Out of 2020 Season?

This story keeps getting weirder.

This story keeps getting weirder.

Just a few days ago, 49ers general manager John Lynch ended a two-month silence to go on KNBR and say he’s “hopeful” the 49ers will agree to a contract extension with George Kittle soon.

The same day, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Kittle and the 49ers still are far apart. And today, the NFL Network’s Mike Silver reports Kittle might opt out of the entire season.

“Because of the unique offseason, there’s a little time to figure this out,” Silver said on the NFL Network. “But if I’m George Kittle, I’m wondering with the opt out deadline coming up as early as August 7, depending on when the new deal gets signed, do I want to play for $2.133 million, which is severely undervalued during a pandemic, or do I want to take $150,000 and live to fight another year? I don’t think it has come to that yet, but if I’m Kittle, those thoughts are starting to form in my mind.”

Silver brings up a great point. And I doubt Silver thought of these things on his own. Remember, he’s talking to Kittle’s agent. And Kittle does have some leverage. He could decide it’s not in his interest to play during a global pandemic for “just” $2.1 million. He could opt out, and no one would call him selfish. Athletes have every right to protect themselves and their loved ones until scientists develop a vaccine for Covid-19.

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So if the 49ers want to win the Super Bowl and want Kittle to play next season, they might need to extend his contract before it starts.

Here’s what else Silver said: “In defense of Kittle, look at the Chiefs. They got their house in order. They got Patrick Mahomes done in a way that allowed them to get Chris Jones done. They’re talking about dynasties. The 49ers got their coach, Kyle Shanahan, and their general manager, John Lynch, done -- well deserved -- but this is something they need to do as a statement to their locker room, and the clock is ticking.”

Another great point by Silver. The 49ers need to show they value not only their coaches and front office, but also their players. The 49ers need to show they will reward the best ones on the team instead of trading them, the way they traded DeForest Buckner. Otherwise, Kittle and the rest of the players will begin to resent ownership.

I expect the 49ers will work things out with Kittle -- he’s too important to alienate. But every time Lynch opens his mouth on this topic, he makes things worse. Maybe he’s the one in the organization who thinks Kittle isn’t worth what he wants. Maybe Lynch believes he can replace Kittle.

If that’s the case, someone please gently shove a Boston Cream Pie into Lynch’s face. He’ll understand.