Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Why the 49ers can’t use the franchise tag on Kyle Juszczyk

Feb 19, 2021 at 11:23 AM--

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk has earned $21 million since signing with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. He is scheduled to become a free agent next month and is pondering his NFL future.

"I've been lucky enough to have the career that I've had these past eight years that I'm definitely going to have a lot of options," Juszczyk said last week during a podcast interview. "But I also absolutely love San Francisco. I love playing for Kyle (Shanahan). I love playing for Mike McDaniel. Bobby Turner, my running back coach, is an absolute OG. I want to send him out the right way.

"But there's a lot more factors that come into play now. I'm 29 years old. I've been married for a while. We want to start a family soon. It's tough because our whole family is on the East Coast, and being out there on the West Coast, it's tough to really have our first child and basically be alone. That's something I have to think about and weigh in on my decision."

One fan asked Matt Barrows of The Athletic why the 49ers don't just use the franchise tag on Juszczyk. After all, he is the highest-paid fullback by a significant margin. Earning $5.25 million per year, an average of the top five fullback salaries would actually reduce Juszczyk's cost.

There's just one problem with that line of thinking: There is no franchise tag for fullbacks. They fall into a different category completely.

Wrote Barrows: "Juszczyk would fall under the running back category, and that franchise number is roughly $11 million, which is double what Juszczyk might get."

Then you have the 49ers salary-cap constraints. The team has about $13.4 million in space, according to San Francisco doesn't have the room to use the franchise tag on anyone right now because it would be guaranteed money for one year. Multi-year deals would allow the 49ers to push some of the financial impact to future years, hoping the salary cap corrects itself by then. That's why multi-year deals for players like Juszczyk and tackle Trent Williams are better.

San Francisco can't use the franchise tag on Williams anyway, due to a clause within his reworked contract.

Where does Barrows feel Juszczyk fits in the team's offseason priorities? Right behind its top-priority — Williams — and above cornerback Jason Verrett.

"I put Juszczyk above Verrett because I think the dropoff from Juszczyk to an alternative fullback is greater than that between Verrett and another cornerback the team can bring in," explains Barrows.

Click here to read the entire mailbag over at The Athletic.

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