So many possibilities for how 49ers plan to use Juszczyk

So many possibilities for how 49ers plan to use Juszczyk

Quarterback Brian Hoyer already has one luxury he never enjoyed during his one season together with Kyle Shanahan with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

The 49ers made Kyle Juszczyk the highest-paid fullback in the NFL last week. Truth be told, there is not a lot of competition for that honor. And there were certainly no candidates in Cleveland when Hoyer was there and Shanahan was the offensive coordinator.

“We didn’t have a fullback in Cleveland, and you watch how well Kyle (Shanahan) did with a fullback in Atlanta (with Patrick DiMarco),” Hoyer said. “To have a guy who can do more than just ram his head up in there and block, he can catch passes, he can go out and do other things.

“It’s a unique position because as football has evolved, the fullback position has been used less. And Kyle has found a way to use it in different ways. When you have a guy who has that skill set, you really make the defense declare what they want to do because of where he’s lined up and what he’s capable of doing.”

Juszczyk, who signed a reported four-year, $21 million free-agent contract, is a versatile player who wears a lot more hats than the stereotypical fullback. Juszczyk (pronounced YOOZ-check) thrives as pass-catcher with 78 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns in the past two seasons. He was selected to the Pro Bowl last season in his final season with the Baltimore Ravens.

“I forget who coined it, but we said, ‘Let’s not think of him as a fullback. He’s an OW.’ So, if you see OW, that stands for ‘offensive weapon,’ ” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We saw an offensive weapon that this guy is thrilled to be able to use in a number of different capacities and I think that kind of is symbolic of our approach.”

Juszczyk said he will be ready to be deployed in a number of different positions and roles in the 49ers’ offense. The strengths and weaknesses of the 49ers’ opponents will usually determine how he will be featured on a week-to-week basis.

“My whole career, I’ve always been versatile and able to line up in many different positions,” said Juszczyk, who was an economics major at Harvard. “So I’m very comfortable, not just lining up behind the quarterback in the backfield, but I’m split out wide. I’ve caught passes in the slot. I’ve been a third-down protection back. I pride myself on doing it all.

“Each game plan is going to bring something different. Honestly, that’s what I’m used to. The last three years has been basically been that. Each week, I do something different. I just try to embrace whatever they give me and do the best I can with it.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”