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Shanaplan: Kyle Juszczyk, WR3?

The team must replace Mohamed Sanu and we think Juszczyk is the best option to do so

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 49ers will have a couple of new starters against the Rams Monday night as Mike McGlinchey is out for the season with a torn quad, and Mohamed Sanu is headed to the injured reserve with a knee sprain.

San Francisco has leaned heavily on Sanu this season. Since Week 3, Sanu has played at least 45% of the snaps in each game. With Sanu playing, that means Jauan Jennings and Trent Sherfield have been afterthoughts in this offense. Neither player played more than ten snaps against Arizona last Sunday.

I wonder how much of not playing Sherfield is due to his lack of size and ability as a blocker. Sanu’s frame allows him to block safeties and linebackers. Could that lead to Jennings taking over as WR3? Jennings has the frame but struggles to separate as a receiver.

During today’s episode of The Shanaplan, Akash and I discuss some of the changes we might see Monday night, including who fills in for Sanu. To me, it’s simple: Use your best players.

Kyle Juszczyk, friend of the podcast, lined up as a tight end on a few occasions against Arizona in Week 9. He caught both of his targets for 14 yards — one of which was a diving reception near the sideline for a first down.

On the season, Juszczyk has 17 receptions on 19 targets for an average of 9.4 yards per reception and a touchdown. He and Jimmy Garoppolo have good timing with each other. It’s not as if Juszczyk isn’t moving the chains when he touches the ball. Eleven of his receptions have gone for first downs. Also, 45% of his yards have come through the air, and 88 of his 160 yards are after the catch.

Juszczyk is a legitimate weapon, and Shanahan can dictate what the defense does with his fullback on the field. You ensure that a linebacker has to guard George Kittle or Juszczyk when both players are on the field. That’s advantage, 49ers. You also guarantee the defense has to stay in their base defense, which will, in turn, help your play-action passing game.

I remember during joint practices this past training camp against the Chargers where Juice was unstoppable. He has the fullback tag, but he’s an excellent 1-on-1 player and arguably one of the better options on the roster.

If I were Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniel, I’d lean on Juszczyk and heavier personnel packages with Sanu out.

For more, listen to the full episode below. Please, rate, subscribe, and leave us a 5-star review:

Other topics include:

How does the team adjust to losing McGlinchey?

Is Kyle Shanahan in over his head?

Changes the team can make this week against the Rams

Is it time for a youth movement?