Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Juszczyk helped 49ers recruit Jerick McKinnon

Jul 31, 2018 at 8:56 AM--

Kyle Juszczyk knew Carlos Hyde wasn't returning to the San Francisco 49ers. He's a smart guy. He went to Harvard, after all. Juszczyk knew the 49ers would be in the market for a running back in free agency.

Looking at the free agency landscape, and without discussing it with his coaching staff, Juszczyk noticed one running back who would be a perfect fit for the head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense – the Minnesota Vikings' Jerick McKinnon. He decided to reach out to the impending free agent.

"I just felt like he would be a guy that we would target and I figured I'd take a shot," Juszczyk told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area during an interview for the 49ers Insider Podcast.

Juszczyk knew enough about the 49ers' player personnel to identify good fits.

"I knew who the free agent running backs were and I've been in this system now," he continued. "So yeah, I knew he was one of the names that was going to pop up. I don't know that I knew he was going to be the top-paid running back in the market that year, but I figured he'd be a guy that we'd be interested in."

Juszczyk was correct. The 49ers did target McKinnon and signed him on the first day of free agency. Juszczyk found out his assumption was correct when McKinnon told him the 49ers had entered the picture. The 49ers fullback spoke with some coaches, who urged him to keep doing what he was doing.

"Once I pretty much figured out that Carlos wasn't going to be coming back, I knew we were in the market for a running back," Juszczyk said. "Jerick looked exactly like the kind of guy we needed here. A guy that could do everything. He was very multifaceted, very involved in the run game, pass game, and so I just reached out to him, and I said, 'Hey.'

"I explained who I was. He's just getting a text from a random number. I said, 'Hey man, this is Kyle Juszczyk. I'm the 49ers fullback, and I know how free agency goes. It's crazy. I just did it the year before. I think you would fit perfectly here. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me, and I'll answer everything honestly and just give you a feel of what it's like here.'"

McKinnon took up Juszczyk's offer and asked away.

"He asked me all sorts of questions, and I continued to bug him as the process went on. Once we signed him, I was elated."

You can listen to the entire interview with Juszczyk below.

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