Kyle Juszczyk

49ers Re-Sign Kyle Juszczyk

UPDATE, 8:35pm: It’s now official. Juszczyk has signed a five-year extension with the 49ers worth an impressive $27MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet notes the contract is signed, so it’s a done deal. The pact comes with $10MM guaranteed, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets.

8:33am: About three weeks ago, we heard that the 49ers were making a push to re-sign fullback Kyle Juszczyk in advance of free agency. With the legal tampering period set to kick off tomorrow, it appears that San Francisco may have struck an accord just in time.

Late last night, Niners GM John Lynch posted the following tweet, which certainly makes it sound as if Juszczyk will be back: “I’m thirsty. Niners fans, you want some ‘Juice?'” Presumably, Lynch does not plan on bringing in O.J. Simpson in an advisory role, so that would seem to indicate that he was referring to a Juszczyk re-up.

In Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s first offseason running the 49ers, they signed the former Ravens blocker to a four-year, $21MM deal. That 2017 pact still resides on its own tier at the fullback position, with only two other FBs — Derek Watt and C.J. Ham — earning more than $2MM in average annual salary.

Of course, Juszczyk is more than just a blocking fullback. While he is hardy the focal point of Shanahan’s offense, he is a useful and versatile weapon, having compiled 102 catches for 1,080 yards and 35 carries for 132 yards over the past four seasons. He has nine total touchdowns during that time, and he has earned four consecutive Pro Bowl nods for his efforts.

Because there are still no obvious comps, it could be that Juszczyk’s second contract with the 49ers will look much like his first one. But in any event, Lynch will have around $30MM in cap space heading into free agency, so he will have some ability to sign a quality FA or two and perhaps retain LT Trent Williams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers, FB Kyle Juszczyk Exchange Offers

49ers GM John Lynch said last month the 49ers will make a strong effort to retain Kyle Juszczyk. The team has begun its effort to retain its fullback of the past four seasons.

Juszczyk’s camp and the 49ers have exchanged offers ahead of free agency, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets. While these are described as preliminary talks, Anderson adds they have been pleasant and that the veteran blocker/outlet option would be happy with a deal that keeps him in San Francisco (Twitter link).

He’s a unique person and a unique football player because he does so many things for you,” Lynch said. “He’s important to us and we’re going to make every effort to try to keep him here.”

Free agency went well for Juszczyk four years ago. In Lynch and Kyle Shanahan‘s first offseason running the 49ers, they signed the former Ravens blocker to a whopping (for a fullback) $5.25MM-per-year deal. This 2017 contract still resides on its own tier at this position, with only two other fullbacks — Derek Watt and C.J. Ham — earning more than $2MM in average annual salary.

While Juszczyk has no other contracts to use in his talks with the 49ers, he has been an essential part of Shanahan’s offense. The NFC has deemed him its Pro Bowl fullback in each of the past four seasons. His 472 offensive snaps were second among fullbacks last year. Juszczyk, who has exceeded 200 receiving yards in each of his 49ers seasons, scored a career-high six touchdowns in 2020. He also helped the team’s run game churn out yards despite five running backs seeing extensive time. The eight-year veteran will turn 30 in April.

The franchise tag groups fullbacks and running backs together and is thus not an option for Juszczyk. The 49ers are prepared to let Richard Sherman depart in free agency and have Trent Williams residing a top priority weeks away from the market opening. Slot cornerback K’Waun Williams and boundary corner Jason Verrett profile as key 49er free agents as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Rumors: Reed, Bosa, Ford, Juszczyk

One of the NFL’s most injury-prone players, Jordan Reed considered retirement after missing all of the 2019 season. The ex-Washington tight end dealt with another concussion last year, adding to a lengthy list of head injuries for the former Pro Bowler. But he signed with the 49ers this summer and is set to back up George Kittle.

I definitely thought about hanging it up after last season,” Reed said, via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch. “But it was when I watched the Super Bowl is what really ignited me again. I want to play in those big games. … Before I made my decision, I saw some professionals. And I did my rehab. All the tests were clear. I’m healthy and I’m good to go.”

Following last season, Reed has missed 25 NFL games because of concussions. He also suffered at least one in each of his three Florida seasons. The 30-year-old playmaker signed a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum ($1.05MM for an eighth-year player).

Here is the latest out of San Francisco:

  • Both Nick Bosa and Dee Ford are currently sidelined with injuries. Bosa is dealing with a strained muscle, while Ford is battling a calf malady. However, Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday he would be “very surprised” if his high-end edge rushers were unavailable for Week 1, via ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner (on Twitter). Bosa dealt with a high ankle sprain during the 49ers’ 2019 training camp but played every game last season. Ford ran into knee and foot trouble and was limited to a part-time role.
  • Kyle Juszczyk is also on the shelf for the 49ers. The acclaimed fullback suffered a hamstring strain, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. The 49ers, however, expect him to be ready by the time they face the Cardinals in Week 1.
  • During a late-summer wide receiver shuffle, the 49ers placed J.J. Nelson on IR and cut Jaron Brown. Kevin White and Tavon Austin remain on the roster, and the latter has performed well during camp, Branch notes. A former top-10 pick who turned 30 this year, Austin has not met expectations as a pro. But he’s played seven NFL seasons and, despite being listed as a wideout, has 10 rushing TDs in his career. San Francisco remains down Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk as well, complicating its receiver depth chart. Injuries will certainly play a key part in how the 49ers’ receiver group looks after Saturday’s roster cutdown.
  • Despite White and Austin being vested veterans, each would be eligible for a practice squad spot. Due to the pandemic, teams can use up to six of their 16 P-squad slots on veterans with any amount of NFL experience this year. Shanahan is interested in taking advantage of this one-time-only luxury. “I love the fact that they’ll let us have vets on it,” the fourth-year 49ers coach said (via Maiocco). “I understand that some players won’t want to do that, but we’ll do our best to tell them why we think it’s a good opportunity for them.” Vested vets are slated to earn $12K per week on the taxi squad this season.

49ers To Pick Up K’Waun Williams’ Option

K’Waun Williams‘ 49ers career is set to extend into a fourth season. The team intends to pick up the cornerback’s 2020 option, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic (on Twitter). They made the same transaction last March and saw Williams continue to be one of the best slot corners in the game.

The 49ers extended Williams in 2017. Said extension calls for a mere $2.15MM base salary in 2020. While this could be a bridge to another deal, the 49ers have their slot man under contract at a bargain rate for the time being.

Pro Football Focus graded Williams as the league’s No. 7 overall corner last season, and both he and Richard Sherman (No. 1 on that list) are set to reprise their roles next season. The 49ers also have younger talents Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon under contract. Williams, 28, signed with the 49ers in 2017 after a tumultuous Browns tenure and has operated as a key defender throughout Kyle Shanahan’s tenure.

The Williams move comes a day after the 49ers exercised fellow 2017 free agent addition Kyle Juszczyk‘s 2020 option. While the 49ers have bigger decisions to make this offseason — most notably involving pass rusher Arik Armstead — they are taking care of some key role players this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Juszczyk, Newton, Leonard

We rounded up a few injury updates earlier today, and now we have another batch to pass along:

  • 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk will miss four to six weeks of action with a sprained MCL, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets. Pelissero also says Juice, one of the league’s most important fullbacks, will get a second opinion. There is some hope that the Harvard product can return before four weeks.
  • Panthers QB Cam Newton will not travel with the team to London this week, as Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer writes. Head coach Ron Rivera said Newton is making progress in his rehab of a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, but there’s still no definitive word as to when he might return.
  • The Colts are on a bye this week, and they should have a big boost when they return. LB Darius Leonard, who has missed the last three games with a concussion, shared a photo on IG saying he’s been cleared to play.
  • Raiders DE Arden Key suffered a sprained patellar tendon during the team’s win over the Bears on Sunday, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). He will miss several weeks, which led Oakland to work out a few edge defenders today.

Injury Updates: Rams, Matthews, Giants, Engram

There’s still no official word on when Rams outside linebacker Clay Matthews will return to action, but a realistic return date for him would be after the team’s bye week, head coach Sean McVay told reporters. That would line the veteran up for a Week 10 return on Nov. 10 against the Steelers, restoring one of the Rams’ defensive stars for a second-half push.

While Matthews’ busted jaw heals up, the Rams will face the 49ers in an intrastate matchup on Sunday.

Here’s more on some notable injuries from around the NFL:

  • Giants tight end Evan Engram is dealing with a sprained MCL, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). It’ll be a challenge for Engram to play against the Patriots on Thursday, Schefter hears, which would leave the club with Rhett Ellison, Garrett Dickerson, and Kaden Smith at TE. Meanwhile, wide receiver Sterling Shepard is out and running back Saquon Barkley is considered unlikely to play.
  • 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk suffered an MCL injury on Monday night against the Browns, a source tells NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The team should know more after an MRI on Tuesday. Juszczyk may not be a household name, but he’s a key part of SF’s offense.

49ers Exercise Options On Juszczyk, Watson

The 49ers decided to get a good deal of their housekeeping done on Thursday. Per a team announcement, the club has made the following transactions:

Tendered:

Exercised 2019 Options:

Declined 2019 option

For the most part, these were no-brainer calls for SF. Mostert, Lee, and Mabin will all return on cheap one-year deals that require little in the way of actual commitments. Juszczyk, signed to a four-year, $21MM deal in 2017, is regarded as one of the very best fullbacks in the NFL and graded out as the second-best in the league last year, per Pro Football Focus. who rejoiced when he was cut by the Pats and claimed by the Niners in 2017, tallied a career-high 5.5 sacks in 2018.

NFC West Notes: Bucannon, 49ers, Seahawks

Deone Bucannon spent his 2017 offseason rehabbing from an injury, and the Cardinals became concerned the fifth-year linebacker suffered a serious setback at practice Thursday. But a day later, the team is relieved after an MRI revealed Bucannon did not damage any knee ligaments, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Bucannon did suffer a hyperextended knee and bruised a kneecap, per Rapoport, and the Cards aren’t going to rush him back as a result. Ankle injuries limited Bucannon to 12 games last season, and 2018 will be critical for him. He will play this season on a fifth-year option and is due for 2019 free agency. The Cards’ shift to a 4-3 look will result in their 2014 first-round pick lining up at outside linebacker. Initially a safety, Bucannon moved to an inside ‘backer slot and played there full-time over the past two seasons.

The 49ers saw a former first-round pick go down during camp as well. Here’s the latest from the NFC West:

  • Arik Armstead missed much of the past two seasons because of an injury, and the 49ers‘ 2015 first-rounder’s now dealing with another one. A hamstring malady is expected to sideline Armstead for multiple weeks, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Armstead went on IR with a shoulder injury in 2016, and a broken hand ended his 2017 campaign. He also underwent foot surgery this offseason. The 49ers picked up Armstead’s $9MM 2019 option in May. He’s expected to remain a defensive end starter this season.
  • The Seahawks drafted Alex McGough in the seventh round, but ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson notes he hasn’t provided Austin Davis with much competition. It appears certain Davis will reprise his role as Russell Wilson‘s top backup this season. “Austin has been really solid,” Pete Carroll said. “I think it’s been really hard for Alex to get going. He’s been struggling. It’s been hard for him. We are a very high-tech offense, there’s a lot going on and he hasn’t been able to get back to even where he was in the offseason.”
  • Kyle Shanahan admitted he’s had doubts he made the right decision to convince John Lynch to trade up to select Joe Williams in the 2017 fourth round, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. A Utah product who stepped away from football in college due to off-field issues, Williams did not impress the 49ers’ staff during 2017 training camp and has yet to play in a game. While Shanahan’s seen a stronger commitment from the second-year back this summer, Williams isn’t a roster lock. He’s competing with Raheem Mostert for the 49ers’ third-string running back job, behind Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, Branch adds.
  • Before the 49ers made an offer to McKinnon, Kyle Juszczyk helped recruit him. The NFL’s highest-paid fullback began texting with the former Vikings backup running back during the winter, and once informed the 49ers were going after him, the team told Juszczyk to keep pushing with his recruitment, Juszczyk said (via Maiocco). McKinnon surprised many by fetching a four-year, $30MM contract, including his new fullback. “I don’t know if I knew he was going to be the top-paid running back in the market that year,” Juszczyk said. “But I figured he’d be a guy that we’d be interested in.”

NFC Notes: Miller, Bridgewater, Juszczyk, Seahawks

One of the scarier stories of this season was the situation regarding Bears tight end Zach Miller‘s serious leg injury. Just a week ago, doctors were performing surgery to save his leg after he dislocated his knee while playing. However, after a successful procedure, the 33 year-old is set to be released from the hospital on Monday, reports Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com. According to Mortensen, the surgery was described as “heroic” by one doctor, who relayed that the surgeons needed to repair a torn popliteal artery. The road to recovery is still ongoing as the tight end will likely need multiple surgeries before starting his way to rehab, but the outlook is much better than it was because of the many great doctors and Miller himself as Mortensen outlines in his piece.

  • Speaking of amazing recoveries, Teddy Bridgewater is on track to return to the gridiron after many months of rehab and uncertainty regarding his serious knee injury. The Vikings former first round pick is expected to be activated and in uniform for the team’s Week 10 contest versus Washington, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Bridgewater was placed on the PUP list at the start of the regular season after he had been recovering from an injury he suffered back in training camp two years ago. It’s been a long road for the soon-to-be 25 year-old, but it looks like the quarterback’s resiliency will soon pay off. Although, it remains to be seen what role Bridgewater will have when he returns, especially with the recent solid play of third string QB Case Keenum. Bridgewater last played in the team’s heartbreaking playoff defeat at the hands of the Seahawks back in 2015.
  • 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk will undergo an MRI on Monday after suffering a concussion in today’s defeat at the hands of the Cardinals, tweets Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. The news comes right after it was learned that safety Jaquiski Tartt would be placed on the IR with a fractured arm that he suffered in today’s game as well. Juszczyk, 26, hasn’t been as big of a factor in the 49ers offense as people may have thought after signing by far the richest contract of any fullback this past offseason. The former Raven has totaled just 23 rushing yards and 8 catches for 80 yards this year.
  • The Seahawks cut tackle Isaiah Battle a few days ago after the team added the highly regarded Duane Brown prior to the trade deadline. However, it seems like Seattle would like to retain the offensive lineman as general manager John Schneider said on a pre-game show that he hopes to re-sign the 24 year-old to the team’s practice squad this week, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link).

 

AFC Notes: Patriots, Ravens, Colts

The latest from the AFC:

  • Eric Rowe isn’t necessarily a lock to serve as the Patriots’ No. 3 cornerback in 2017, suggests Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Rather, it could be Jonathan Jones who emerges behind stars Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, as Reiss notes that the second-year man got first-team reps as the Patriots’ nickel corner during OTAs last week. With that in mind, Rowe’s playing time during the upcoming season might depend on matchups. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the Patriots could feature Rowe as their nickel corner against teams with multiple big receivers or clubs with tight ends who function as large wideouts, relays Reiss. That was the case in Super Bowl LI when the Pats put Rowe on the Falcons’ best receiver, the 6-3, 220-pound Julio Jones.
  • Now-49er Kyle Juszczyk was more of a Swiss Army knife than a fullback for the Ravens, meaning it may take multiple players to replace him, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Running backs Lorenzo Taliaferro and Danny Woodhead, fullback Ricky Ortiz and tight end Nick Boyle could try to make up for Juszczyk’s departure as a group. The versatile Juszczyk parlayed his time in Baltimore as a lead blocker/pass catcher/special teamer into a record contract for a fullback (four years, $21MM, including $10.5MM guaranteed). Although the Ravens wanted to keep Juszczyk, their offer wasn’t competitive with the 49ers’, reports Zrebiec.
  • Le’Raven Clark started in just three of eight appearances as a third-round rookie in 2016, but he ended the year as the Colts’ No. 1 right tackle and looks likely to win the job this season, per Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Joe Reitz and Joe Haeg picked up the bulk of the work at right tackle while Clark was on the bench, but the former has since retired and the latter is primarily a guard. As for Clark, he’s “got enough talent” to be a full-timer, according to Chuck Pagano, though the head coach noted that the 24-year-old must improve as a pass blocker. Pro Football Focus agrees, having assigned Clark an awful pass-blocking grade during his inaugural campaign.