Bill Belichick really likes George Kittle.
With the San Francisco 49ers up next for his New England Patriots, Belichick delivered effusive praise for the 49ers’ All-Pro tight end on Monday.
“He’s as good as anybody that I’ve coached and as good as anybody that I’ve played against,” Belichick told reporters Monday, per the Sacramento Bee.
That sounds a lot like Belichick just called Kittle the best player in football history. Belichick’s been coaching in the NFL since he was a special assistant for the Baltimore Colts in 1975. So that eliminates Jim Brown from the conversation.
Belichick’s coached some pretty good players
But most of the players who find themselves on the all-time greats lists have played since Belichick’s been in the NFL. Two who find themselves at or near the top of any reputable ranking played for Belichick.
Belichick ran the New York Giants defenses of the 1980s that featured Lawrence Taylor. And, of course, there’s Tom Brady.
What about Gronk?
Maybe Belichick was just referring to tight ends.
“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,” Belichick continued. “He just really doesn’t have any weak points at all. Just outstanding at every phase of the game.”
And in that case — well — what about Rob Gronkowski? The four-time All-Pro, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots before retiring and un-retiring to rejoin Brady in Tampa Bay, is considered by many to be the greatest ever at his position.
It makes one wonder. Would Belichick be handing out that kind of praise for Kittle this week if Gronkowski and Brady were still Patriots?
More from Yahoo Sports: