Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Ahead of their matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said 49ers tight end George Kittle is "as good as anybody" he has coached against during his time in the NFL.
"Kittle is a great player," Belichick told reporters Monday. "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 high praise from Belichick, who has served as the Patriots' head coach since 2000 and spent most of the remainder of his coaching career as either a defensive coordinator or defensive position coach.
It's also notable because Belichick coached four-time All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski in New England from 2010-18. Gronkowski is regarded by most as the premier tight end of his generation after earning five Pro Bowl selections and three Super Bowl rings, along with a spot on the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
But according to Belichick, Kittle's talent -- combined with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's ability to put him in the best position to succeed -- sets him apart from Gronkowski and other elite players at the position.
"If you pay 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."
Kittle has 30 receptions for 380 yards and two touchdowns in four games this season. He ranks second in catches and yards among all tight ends despite missing two games because of a sprained left knee.