The fullback has been viewed as a dying breed in the NFL in recent years, but you wouldn’t know it from Wednesday’s free-agent activity.
As a few other fullbacks found respectable deals elsewhere, Kyle Juszczyk is preparing to leave the Ravens for a lucrative contract in San Francisco. According to multiple outlets, Juszczyk will sign a four-year, $21 million contract with the 49ers. An ESPN report indicates that the 2013 fourth-round pick will receive $10.5 million guaranteed, an incredible amount that eclipses any other current fullback.
A Harvard graduate, Juszczyk was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2016 after catching 37 passes for 266 yards and frequently serving as the primary back in passing situations. His 10-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter of Baltimore’s Christmas Day battle with Pittsburgh looked like it would be the deciding score before a last-second touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown gave the Steelers the 31-27 win and the AFC North title.
It’s believed that new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan envisions a more diverse role for Juszczyk than that of the typical fullback. Meanwhile, the Ravens will be forced to look for Juszczyk’s replacement this offseason.
One can hardly blame general manager Ozzie Newsome for not paying Juszczyk such a lucrative amount, but his pass-blocking ability will certainly be missed. Primary tailbacks Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon both struggled in pass protection last year, which often led the Ravens to use Juszczyk in single-back formations in passing situations.