While there were certaintly some eyebrows raised with the four-year, $21 million contract the San Francisco 49ers gave veteran fullback Kyle Juszczyk, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system will allow him to flourish in 2017.
After the signing of Kyle Juszczyk in free agency earlier this offseason, there were skeptics who were critical the San Francisco 49ers overpaid for the former Baltimore Ravens and Harvard fullback.
However, the deal is primarily and effectively a year-to-year contract with $7.5 milion the first year that could eventually be the four-year, $21 million, if he hits his incentives. The contract was another team-friendly deal molded by Niners vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe and Co. that can be mutually beneficial for both parties.
Now the work begins for both Juszczyk and head coach Kyle Shanahan to carve out a niche for him in the offense.
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In fact, Juszczyk did a little research himself before ultimately settling on the 49ers as his new team.
Speaking with the San Jose Mercury News, Juszczyk explained how he studied the Atlanta Falcons’ use of fullback Patrick DiMarco in their offense, and how the “death” of the old-school fullback may be a bit of an exaggeration.
“Every team has goal line situations,” Juszczyk said. “Every team has third- or fourth-and-short situations. You need a guy who can do those things.”
And with Brian Hoyer running San Francisco’s offense under center, Juszczyk’s should see even more opportunities than he did with the Ravens and their quarterback, Joe Flacco.
Flacco had more bona fide weapons in the passing game last year, notably wide receivers Steve Smith and Mike Wallace. Tight end Dennis Pitta also took away chances from Juszczyk, who was limited to just 37 catches and 266 yards.
Still, Juszczyk managed to earn his first Pro Bowl nod, and Pro Football Focus ranked the 26 year old the No. 1 fullback in the NFL last season with an 86.0 overall grade.
San Francisco doesn’t quite have a prolific receiving corps, and it lacks proven tight ends as well.
All this means more chances for Juszczyk, who will be much more than just a lead blocker.
He has the chance to be a serious offensive weapon for Shanahan’s offense this season, and we should expect him to have a breakout year.