MIAMI – The fullback position in the NFL should be dead. If not dead, life-sustaining and threatened with extinction.
The 49ers and Kyle Juszczyk apparently didn't get the memo.
You can call Juszczyk at any time – Fullback, Tight End, H-Back, Running Back, Receiver, Hybrid.
He is on the official list as a defender. But it is so much more. Juszczyk is the Swiss Army Knife of the 49ers, which can compete very well against the Chiefs on Sunday at the Hard Rock Stadium in the Super Bowl 2020.
Juszczyk has the potential to be the pawn with which 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan brings the Lombardi Trophy back to San Francisco for the first time since 1994.
"He's a full-back, but he plays Receiver, Tight End, Running Back and so on. That guy makes defense difficult and makes it difficult for us to defend ourselves," said 49-quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Tuesday.
"Kyle never closes my container," said Juszczyk about his innovative head coach. "He's not afraid to line me up somewhere – running, running, blocking every position in defense. Really, it's his belief in me and he doesn't limit me to anything."
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Shanahan and Juszczyk are a simpatico couple. Both are brilliant – Shanahan, the son of a successful NFL head coach, and Juszczyk, a Harvard graduate.
Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch were aware of what they could do with Juszczyk when they signed him on as a free agent in 2017 with a four-year, $ 21 million contract – numbers that struck many in the league. He is just a full-back ,
Having Juszczyk on the team allowed Shanahan to demonstrate his offensive genius in the way he uses him in disguised formations, sets and movements.
To understand exactly how difficult it was for the 49ers to defend Juszczyk's presence, the post went to San Francisco to explain the defensive players.
"Juce is in his own world – he's a rare guy to have, an X factor," said DeForest Buckner.
"It's one of the biggest weapons we have on the offensive, and that's funny to say considering how many weapons we have," said linebacker Fred Warner. "What he allows Kyle to do [Shanahan] it is amazing to be dealing with the game prompt and to be able to use different formations and staffing groups. He does everything. It's hard to imagine who's doing it the way he is. "
When Dee Ford, who now has a 49er defensive ending, played with the bosses last season, he remembered meeting Juszczyk in the third week, which Kansas City won 38:27.
"I went against him last year and that was a problem," said Ford. "Kyle knew every rule [player assignment on the Chiefs], So he goes to attack the defense. If you have a coach or a player who can dissect and know what to do, that's a very scary thing. "
Experienced left winger Joe Staley was amazed not only by Juszczyk's rare versatility, but also by how smart he was.
"Juce is incredible – not just blocking, but also general understanding and knowledge of the crime, because we do so many advance moves and reads and different formations," he said. “He has a thorough understanding of what we're doing aggressively. Without him and his knowledge, it would be difficult to resolve our offense. He does everything very, very well and is very deceiving with what he does. His little nuances in the game that people don't notice really affect how a defense tries to attack us. "
Due to the effectiveness of the 49ers in their two playoff victories, Juszczyk did not run or catch a ball in the postseason, but only asked to block. This makes Super Bowl LIV ready for Shanahan to play a few offensive games for him as a form of surprise attack.
The position of the full-back is apparently set. For example, the Associated Press annual All-Pro team doesn't even recognize the position this year. The so-called "Flex" replaces the fullback.
Carolina's Christian McCaffrey has been recognized as both an All-Pro Running Back and a "Flex".
"To be honest, it is a little annoying to see this disregard as a defender," said Juszczyk. "But hopefully we will see that it happens again. People like to say that the position of the full-back is dead."
Well, if you paid attention to the 49ers on their way to Miami and the Super Bowl LIV, she's not dead yet.