The Patriots will have a tough challenge this week against the 49ers, but especially when it comes to defending tight end George Kittle.
Speaking to reporters in San Francisco, Bill Belichick had extremely high praise for Kittle, including indicating he's as good as Rob Gronkowski was in his prime.
"Kittle is a great player," he said. "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. He's got a great skillset and the 49ers put him in positions that really stress the defense and make it hard, but then they also use him somewhat as a decoy to open things up for other guys, too.
"... I don't think think there's a tight end in the league, and we've seen a lot of good ones and have 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 really just doesn't have any weak points at all. Just outstanding at every phase of the game."
In four games this season, Kittle has 30 catches for 380 yards and two touchdowns.
While Belichick did not bring up Gronkowski, it's easy to draw the conclusion from his comments that he feels Kittle is a better overall player than the former Patriots tight end was in his prime.