One of the big offseason additions the San Francisco 49ers made this year was signing fullback Kyle Juszczyk. The 49ers made him the highest paid fullback by about 2.5 times, and in a press conference, general manager John Lynch referred to him as an “offensive weapon.”
In years past we might have scoffed at a highly paid fullback, but by all accounts, Juszczyk truly will be that “offensive weapon” Lynch claimed. He has been working with both the tight ends and the running backs, and he has been getting praise from his teammates.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks had the latest compliment. During his Wednesday press conference, Brooks was asked what Juszczyk brings to the offense. He apparently has regular discussions with Tank Carradine about Juszczyk, and discussed the angles the fullback takes.
“Oh man, I have this conversation with Tank every single day. Because he’s relying on me to set the edge … and what Kyle does so well at the fullback position is, and also Kyle Shanahan’s offense, what they like to do, they like to widen out the edge guys. So, when they do want to run the ball outside, his angle is so wide to block me, even in pass situation, his angles the same way — sometimes I think he’s going to block me, and he’s going out for a pass. Sometimes I think he’s going out for a pass, and he’s blocking me. So he’s so good at re-directing on his track and on his angle to where it’s kinda confusing me, but it’s making me better as a player.”
We’ve heard plenty about how Kyle Shanahan wants to create confusion with different looks using versatile personnel. With DeVonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, he could get really creative. Juszczyk seems like the piece of the puzzle in Santa Clara that will fill a versatile role. And when you have somebody who can keep a defense off-balance based on his angles out of the backfield, all the better.
Anything that causes even a moment’s hesitation gives the offense an edge. You see it with well done play action, and you can look across sports to baseball pitchers. Some of the best pitchers are able to throw their fastball and an offspeed pitch from the same, or nearly the same arm angle. A batter is looking for variation to give him a jump on the pitch, but when he’s not sure, he hesitates. And when he hesitates, he’s already playing from behind. If Juszczyk can regularly keep defensive ends and outside linebackers off-balance, the 49ers offense will benefit.