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Kyle Juszczyk on joining 49ers: ‘This is my opportunity again to be fully utilized’

Mar 22, 2017 at 2:43 PM--


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New San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk joined the "B-more Opinionated Podcast" on Wednesday, which is co-hosted by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports and Baltimore sports radio host Jerry Coleman. Juszczyk was part of the initial free agent haul by the 49ers on the first day of free agency that included seven other players. He signed a four-year contract with San Francisco that will earn him an average of $5.25 million per year.

Juszczyk told La Canfora and Coleman that the decision to sign with the 49ers was an easy one because the deal that the team presented was so good. Although, it has reported that the former Ravens fullback turned down an even better offer to join Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

"As far as offers on the table, it was easy to accept San Francisco's just because it was such a great offer," Juszczyk said. "The things that they offered outside of just the money as far as their new coaching staff with coach Shanahan and the location out there, living in California, is not such a bad things."

In 2014, during Juszczyk's second year in the league, his offensive coordinator with the Ravens was Gary Kubiak. Juszczyk said that he was eager to rejoin his former play caller because he enjoyed the way he was utilized within his offense. However, Kubiak retired from head coaching following the 2016 season after two seasons with the Denver Broncos, one of which included a Super Bowl championship.

"When [Kubiak] retired, it kind of seemed like that was all up in the air and that wasn't going to happen," Juszczyk said. "But then this opportunity rolled around with coach Shanahan. Really, it's kind of like the same thing. It's a very similar offense and I think this is my opportunity again to be fully utilized."

"He's an OW," 49ers general manager John Lynch said during the press conference to introduce the team's newly signed free agents. "That stands for offensive weapon. We saw an offensive weapon that this guy is thrilled to be able to use in a number of different capacities and I think that kind of is symbolic of our approach."

Hearing Lynch say that was music to Juszczyk's ears. "That's everything that I wanted to hear these last couple of years because I feel like that label as a fullback almost holds you back a little bit," he said. "It pins you into a certain type of player and I feel like, at some degree, people kind of look down on it because the whole, 'Fullbacks are extinct' (and) 'How many teams even use a fullback these days?' But that's not necessarily the only position I've played on offense so to kind of get rid of that label really means a lot and kind of plays into my game."

Juszczyk's contract has been one of the more widely criticized deals of free agency – likely because it is being viewed solely as a fullback contract. That led to Lynch defending the contract on KNBR.

Even Ian Rapoport of NFL Media defended the signing. "Juszczyk is going to be a really good player," Rapoport said. "If you are really going to use your fullback as a tight end or an H-back — which the Niners are going to — then I don't really care what you pay him. He's not a fullback, he's a tight end. So if you want to pay him $4 million for a tight end, who cares? Five million? Who cares, you know?"

What did Juszczyk think of Lynch seeing his value? "It's really flattering," he said. "I was really excited when I heard that John Lynch had gotten hired as the GM. I think all the players in the NFL are excited about that just because he's a guy that's been in our shoes. He's done what we've done. He respects and he understands what we go through on a day-to-day basis."

That certainly says a lot for the future of the 49ers and Lynch's ability – with Shanahan – to recruit future free agents.

Juszczyk will be going from quarterback Joe Flacco to Brian Hoyer. The fullback has met Hoyer over the years and got an opportunity to reconnect with him while the two were in San Francisco at the start of free agency to sign their contracts. "Love Brian as a person," Juszczyk said. "Love him as a player as well. Really excited to play with him. He's done a lot of good things in this league and I think this is going to be a good fit for him and a good opportunity to show he can be a consistent starter."

You can listen to the entire interview on the "B-more Opinionated Podcast." The interview with Juszczyk begins at about the 36-minute mark.



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