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Kyle Juszczyk Ready to Thrive in New 'Hybrid NFL'

John Lynch was quick to inform everyone that the San Francisco 49ers view Kyle Juszczyk as far more than a fullback.

"He's an 'OW,'" Lynch said during last week's press conference to introduce seven of the 49ers free-agent additions. "If you see 'OW,' that stands for 'offensive weapon.' We see an offensive weapon that (Kyle Shanahan) is thrilled to be able to use in a number of different capacities." 

Juszczyk is no stranger to a Swiss Army Knife-type role. Per Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus, the versatile fullback lined up all over the formation for the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. Juszczyk played 51 percent of his snaps at running back, 32 percent at fullback, eight percent at slot receiver, seven percent at wide receiver and three percent at tight end.

And with the NFL becoming more and more averse to specific position designations, Juszczyk may be the new prototype for an offensive playmaker. That's why the 49ers had no problem making him the highest paid fullback in the league.

"The NFL is a hybrid league," Juszczyk explained. "You've got safeties playing linebacker. You've got linebackers playing defensive end. On offense, you've got tight ends playing wide receiver. I think being multi-dimensional in today's league is really an asset. I think it's something that I can help bring to this team. Hopefully that's an asset that leads to wins."

Lynch confirmed that the 49ers had to beat out other NFL teams who were hoping to sign Juszczyk. It was even reported last week that another club was offering more than San Francisco.

But for Juszczyk, the deciding factor came down to believing in what is being built by the 49ers new regime.

"Working with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch – two first class guys," he said. "Those are guys you want to work for."

The fullback is coming off of a productive 2016 season in which Juszczyk made his first career Pro Bowl. He caught 37 passes for 266 yards through the air and added five carries for 22 yards and his first career rushing touchdown on the ground.

In 2015, Juszczyk led all NFL fullbacks with 41 receptions for 321 yards and four scores.

He now thinks that Kyle Shanahan's highly-touted offensive system can provide another boost to his production. At least, that's what he's been told.

Juszczyk consulted a number of his friends from around the league before signing with San Francisco. Players like former NFL tight end Owen Daniels and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub, two guys familiar with Shanahan and his system, both compared the offense to Gary Kubiak's

Juszczyk spent one season in Kubiak's system in 2014 with the Ravens while Kubiak was the team's offensive coordinator. He caught 19 passes for 182 yards and one touchdown that year.

"They told me it was very similar – maybe a little more advanced," Juszczyk said, feeling like he has a sense of what he's getting himself into with the 49ers. "They told me how much I would love it. Kyle Shanahan is the absolute best at putting his players in a position to thrive and do their best. They told me this was the place for me and that if I wanted to be utilized correctly, this was where I needed to be."

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