The NFL rolled out its top players list ahead of the 2022 regular season, and a pair of 49er players were named. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was No. 100, falling three spots from 2021:
No matter how much the offense evolves with Trey Lance under center, don’t expect Juszczyk to lose snaps. If he’s not lined up at fullback, he could easily line up at tight end. We’ve seen Juice as a receiving threat out of the backfield and down the field. That speaks to his versatility and is the primary reason he’s on the list.
We all know how many yards Juice missed out on last year due to errant throws. He still finished in the top-25 among all receiving backs in yards, despite having fewer targets than all but one of the backs ahead of him. Some of the routes we saw to Ross Dwelley Friday could go to Juszczyk during the season.
Jimmie Ward was the other Niner to land on the list. The video below is worth the watch:
Ward has let his personality come out more and more over the past few seasons. He’s gone out of his way to share his dislike for the Rams as well as going toe-to-toe with DK Metcalf. But Ward backs it up with his play on the field, so the trash talk doesn’t feel out of place.
Ward lines up at free safety, in the box, slot, and will occasionally walk up on the defensive line. Ward reminded us of his special teams' value last season with a critical blocked kick in the playoffs. You name it; he’ll do it.
Ward allowed a completion percentage of 51% a year ago and caught the ball twice, which was his first time. Ward did drop an interception, but last year was a prime example of the ball finding him as a player.
Ward deserves to be acknowledged, and seeing his peers recognize what Ward brings to the table is nice. He’ll have to continue to grow as a leader, as this year could be a challenge with a new safety and slot cornerback.
Of course, this news couldn’t come at a worse time as Ward will miss a month, and potentially Week 1, with a hamstring injury.