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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: FB Kyle Juszczyk

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Next: FB Kyle Juszczyk.

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.

Kyle Juszczyk is the NFL’s best fullback at a time when that position is withering away. He’s a solid lead blocker and excellent pass protector, as well as having great hands as a receiver (97 receptions on 133 targets). He hasn’t run much, but his 5 carries last year averaged 4.4 yards and yielded 3 first downs plus a TD. He’s also a plus on special teams, where he had five tackles last year.

In Baltimore, with less creative play-calling than Shanahan brings, Juice was still remarkably versatile According to Jeff Deeney of PFF, via the #49ers website,

Juszczyk played 51 percent of his snaps at halfback, 32 percent at fullback, slot receiver eight percent, wide receiver seven percent and tight end three percent.

All of this earned him a Pro Bowl berth last year, and the largest contract a fullback has ever received, to lure him to San Francisco.

As for intangibles, he was a high school quarterback, captain of his college squad, and has never missed a game in four NFL years. He was an all-Ivy-League tight end for Harvard, yet brings a blue collar attitude and an enthusiastic Twitter presence that makes him a must-follow for 49ers fans.

Juszczyk is one of four Baltimore Ravens joining the Niners this year, along with Elvis Dumervil, CB Will Davis and OL Jeremy Zuttah. That should help pull together this drastically altered roster.

Basic info

Age: 26 (turns 27 on April 23, 2018)
Experience: 4 accrued seasons
Height: 6’1
Weight: 240 lbs
Pronounced: “YOOZ-check” or “Juice”

Cap status

Signed a four-year, back-loaded contract for $21,000,000 in March of 2017, with a base salary of $2 million this year, a $5 million signing bonus and a cap number of $3.75 million.

What to expect in 2017

Super Bowl MVP? OK, that might be a little optimistic for a couple different reasons, but Juszczyk will be a key part of Kyle Shanahan’s offense (as a complement to primary weapons Carlos Hyde and Pierre Garçon). The Pro Bowl fullback made it clear that, as a free agent, he wanted to sign with a team that could make full use of his versatility, and Kyle Shanahan is the perfect coach to do that.

Shanahan has methodically developed a beefy offensive attack that can run or pass effectively on every down, and Juice is the perfect fullback / H-back / “offensive weapon” for this system. Shanny did a lot in Atlanta with Patrick DiMarco last year, and K-Juice has a much wider range. (He had 47 receptions last year, vs. DiMarco’s 10.) Just the threat of him leaking out on passes or running draws will keep defenses honest and create space for the rest of the offense.

I wrote a longer article exploring how Juszczyk will fit into this offense in March. Here are some key points: Juice is great at pass protection (where Patrick DiMarco was worst among 38 fullbacks, per PFF). He’s clutch in big games, such as his one playoff appearance, or when he pounded in a tough 10-yard run with 1:18 left in week 16 against arch-rival Pittsburgh last year.

NFL Films’ Greg Cosell had this to say about his fit in San Francisco (at 3:00 of the video):

“You could almost argue that Kyle Juszczyk is as important a signing as anybody ... He’s going to play 30-35% of the snaps. He’s the best fullback in the league. He’s a terrific receiver. That’s a signing that is so, so important.”

The bottom line is that Juszczyk’s talent in every part of the offense makes him the perfect second back in Kyle Shanahan’s play action-heavy system (or single back in passing situations).

Odds of making the roster

Unless he commits a major crime, declares himself a neo-Nazi, or dies, Kyle Juszczyk will be on this team.