The KC Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are both thankful to have two of the best tight ends in the league on their team. This weekend, we’ll get to watch both of them do their thing on the biggest stage in football.
Travis Kelce was the unquestioned number one tight end for about five minutes after Rob Gronkowski officially announced his retirement. Not long after Gronk called it quits, a young tight end in San Francisco named George Kittle was rising to superstardom and he’s been at the top of the tight end rankings alongside Kelce ever since.
This Sunday in Super Bowl LIV, the Kansas City Chiefs will have to figure out a way to stop Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers are going to have to figure out how to stop Travis Kelce. Both tight ends are lethal and it’ll make the position battle a lot of fun to watch this Sunday evening, but which one is the better tight end?
Let’s look back at what these two have already accomplished this past season. Here are both tight ends’ regular season numbers:
- Kelce: 97 receptions for 1,229 yards and 5 touchdowns (1 rushing touchdown as well)
- Kittle: 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and 5 touchdowns
Kelce has the edge when it comes to regular season stats, but it’s definitely worth noting that Kittle missed two games due to injury. Considering he averaged 75.2 yards a game, had he played in those two games and gotten around his average each game, he’d have barely trailed Kelce in receiving yards.
It’s also worth noting that the 49ers utilize Kittle as a blocker quite frequently so even when he’s not putting up gaudy numbers like Kelce does on a week to week basis, he’s opening things up in the run game. That’s what makes San Francisco a dangerous offense.
Here’s what the two have done in the playoffs so far:
- Kelce: 13 receptions for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns
- Kittle: 4 receptions for 35 yards
Okay, so the playoff argument is no contest – Kelce would win hands down.
The 49ers went with the full on run the ball approach in the postseason and that whittled down Kittle’s opportunities to make an impact in the game and he was also ask to block in those games as well. His quarterback had just six completions in the NFC title game, so that obviously limits what Kittle can do if his quarterback isn’t throwing the ball more than eight times.
Some might point to Kelce having the better quarterback and that being why his numbers are better and yes, they’re right. On the other hand, the Chiefs have more offensive weapons than the 49ers do (at least passing wise), which takes targets away from Kelce.
Both tight ends are very talented, but Kelce has the better numbers and has been doing what he’s doing for a lot longer than Kittle has. The Niners tight end has yet to have that big game in the playoffs (this is only his third playoff game though for what it’s worth) while Kelce went off in the Divisional Round for 134 yards and three touchdowns and has been the Chiefs’ top weapon in the playoffs since he first got to Kansas City.
The Super Bowl probably won’t come down to which one has the better game, but one thing is for sure – Both Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo will be looking their tight ends’ way throughout the game on Sunday night. Maybe the game is decided by a late Kelce touchdown or maybe Kittle gets the edge with a late score, but right now, Travis Kelce is the better tight end between the two, but it’s by a very small margin.
Either way, it’ll be a fun position battle to watch and should make the tight end rankings a little more interesting moving forward.