Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Juszczyk clarifies he isn’t tired of being Jimmy Garoppolo’s offseason bodyguard

May 19, 2020 at 1:02 PM--

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has (perhaps unfairly) shouldered much of the blame for the 49ers' fourth-quarter collapse and ensuing defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. He has also drawn criticism due to his lack of production in the two playoff games that preceded the Super Bowl, leading many to speculate that head coach Kyle Shanahan lacked trust in the quarterback.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk seemed to indicate earlier this month that he was growing tired of being Garoppolo's offseason bodyguard, having to constantly defend him during interviews.

"I feel like I've been his bodyguard this offseason, sticking up for him to everybody who's trying to take shots," Juszczyk said during the interview on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore.

Juszczyk didn't like that headline (My apologies if it gave a false impression) because it perhaps indicated that the fullback was didn't want to do it anymore. That certainly wasn't the intention behind the headline, which was meant to indicate that Juszczyk was tired of the criticism. Juszczyk actually relishes in the opportunity to defend Garoppolo.

"I was disappointed that I saw the headline of one of the articles recently that I was tired of being Jimmy's bodyguard," Juszczyk said Tuesday during a video conference with reporters. "That's absolutely not what I said. I said I feel like I've been Jimmy's bodyguard this offseason, but I've never been tired of it. I'll continue to do it right now.

"It's crazy to me that he doesn't get the respect he deserves for what a phenomenal season I think he had, for the numbers that he put up, the way he led this team. He was, no doubt, our leader on offense. He brought us to a Super Bowl and within seven minutes of winning one. So for him not to get the respect is pretty wild to me, but I really do think he will trend up. He's only going to get better.

"This time to really dive into the nitty-gritty will continue to help him, and it's more and more reps. And we have a full season of him starting where he can go back and rewatch the tape, and spend extra time watching himself."

The 49ers showed confidence in Garoppolo this offseason after Shanahan and general manager John Lynch admitted that the team did look into the possibility of signing Tom Brady. While that alone might indicate a lack of confidence, the team's decision-makers were simply looking into every opportunity, as they often do.

The film study didn't just involve the future Hall of Famer but also included reviewing the play of Garoppolo. That led Shanahan and Lynch to conclude that they already had a franchise quarterback who they believed in and would win with, allowing the 49ers to abandon the possibility of signing Brady.

"And the cool things is, kind of at the same time, we both looked at each other and said, 'You know what? We've got what we believe to be the long-term answer in our building right now,'" Lynch said in April. "We felt like it was our duty to take a quick look at Tom, and this was nothing to disparage him, but that's not going to be a long-term answer.

"We figured we did what we think was the responsible thing to do. We took a good look, but the answer is right here in our building. And I think the coolest thing for us is we come out of that more convicted in who Jimmy Garoppolo is, and what he means to this team, than ever before."

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