Many complained when the San Francisco 49ers signed fullback Kyle Juszczyk to a four-year, $21 million contract. That made for a higher average-per-year salary than any other fullback by 2.5 times. But some were calmed when it was revealed that the 49ers essentially had an out every year of the deal.
Perhaps Juszczyk wasn’t worth a cap hit of $3.85 million in 2017, but he did lead all fullbacks in receiving yardage. He caught 33 of 42 passes thrown his way for 315 yards and a touchdown, including four plays of 20-plus yards. He out-performed all fullbacks by a healthy margin.
Juszczyk also had his best receiving totals when Jimmy Garoppolo was playing, unsurprisingly. Against the Houston Texans, he caught three passes for 64 yards. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had five receptions for 76 yards. He caught four passes in the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams.
On top of that, he’s a fantastic run blocker and a solid pass blocker. He is one of the better players on the field when he’s out there.
His cap hit will increase in 2018, from $3.75 million to $4.5 million, $2.75 million of which is base salary that becomes fully guaranteed on April 1 if he remains on the roster (and is guaranteed in case of injury regardless).
That’s a lot of money, but Shanahan’s offense — his full offense — is going to utilize Juszczyk in a big way. That’s why the 49ers paid him what they did: Shanahan had plans. He didn’t have the quarterback to completely execute those plans before.
Now he does for the next several years. Juszczyk likely won’t be getting a massive pay raise the next time he gets a new deal, but I’d be surprised if the 49ers considered parting ways with him at any point during this deal. The term “offensive weapon” is used a lot these days and it applies to Juszczyk big time.