49ers

Why ESPN considers Kyle Juszczyk’s 49ers contract NFL's biggest outlier

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Why ESPN considers Kyle Juszczyk’s 49ers contract NFL's biggest outlier

The 49ers paid Kyle Juszczyk handsomely to come aboard -- perhaps too handsomely.

San Francisco inked the fullback to a four-year, $21 million contract prior to the 2017 season, which is well above market rate for the position in today's NFL.

For the last few years, ESPN's Bill Barnwell has ranked the biggest outlier contracts in the NFL, those whose value is much more than the standard at their specific position. 

And for the third year in a row, Juszczyk took home the top prize as the NFL's biggest outlier contract.

"To put his four-year, $21 million deal in context, [Aaron] Donald would need to make about $108 million over three years to be similarly ahead of the defensive tackle market. Russell Wilson's four-year, $140 million extensions would need to be a four-year, $202.9 million deal to rank similarly ahead of the quarterback class," Barnwell writes.

"Nobody has joined the 49ers in rewarding the fullback position, either. Juszczyk is one of just four veteran fullbacks in the league signed to a deal of three seasons or more. The former Raven averages $5.3 million across that deal; the other three players average $5.6 million combined. Most of the league's multiyear deals at the position are rookie contracts, including several undrafted free agents. The only other fullback in the league with an average salary over $2 million is Patrick DiMarco, who is at $2.1 million."

As Barnwell goes on to explain, Juszczyk hasn't excelled as a runner -- rushing just 15 times for 61 yards -- and has fumbled four times in 98 touches, the fourth-worst fumble rate in the NFL.

Juszczyk hasn't thrived as a receiver, either, as he's hauled in 63 passes for 639 yards in the past two seasons, which, as Barnwell points out, is on par with the like of Brandon LaFell and Antonio Gates during that time period. 

[RELATED: Amid contract drama, Gould says family will drive decision]

The contract certainly is above market value, but the 49ers did what they had to do (and then some) to get their guy.

Why 49ers will win NFC West this season, according to USA Today writer

Why 49ers will win NFC West this season, according to USA Today writer

The 49ers have won 10 games under head coach Kyle Shanahan in the past two seasons combined. Could they win that many games this season alone? 

USA Today's Nate Davis seems to think so

Davis not only has the 49ers winning 10 games and losing six, but also winning the NFC West. Here is his explanation:

"Recovered QB Jimmy Garoppolo may have just one premier weapon (TE George Kittle) but has plenty of capable options to leverage in Kyle Shanahan's scheme. Should be a joy to watch healthy group, which has consistently fought hard and remained highly capable despite dire circumstances of past two years."

With a healthy Garoppolo and the Rams suffering a Super Bowl hangover, Davis believes in the 49ers. Not that much, though. He has San Francisco (the No. 4 seed) losing to Chicago (the No. 5 seed) in the NFC Wild Card round. 

The 49ers haven't reached the playoffs since 2013 when they lost to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. Since then, they've fired three head coaches -- Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- and amassed a 25-55 record in the regular season. 

But the 49ers have a revamped roster, even outside of Garoppolo's health.

They added weapons through free agency and the NFL draft. General manager John Lynch and Co. gave Jimmy G players like running back Tevin Coleman plus receivers Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd and Jordan Matthews. On defense, they brought in edge rusher Dee Ford, defensive end Nick Bosa and linebacker Kwon Alexander, among others. 

[RELATED: Five bold predictions for 49ers' upcoming season]

In the always competitive NFC West, 10 wins for the 49ers will feel like another Super Bowl victory in itself.

Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has high praise for Kyle Shanahan

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Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has high praise for Kyle Shanahan

Jim Harbaugh's four seasons as the 49ers' head coach left him with a 44-19-1 record, three NFC Championship Game appearances, and zero seasons with a sub-.500 record. 

He's now on the sidelines at the University of Michigan as the team's head coach. But he doesn't forget his time with San Francisco and keeps tabs on current 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

"I can tell you this: I like watching their tape, especially on offense," Harbaugh told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami. "A lot of creative things and kind of on a weekly basis. I enjoy trying to — I wouldn't say steal because, in football, you don't regard it as stealing things. You regard it as doing your homework. I do enjoy that."

He also credits Shanahan's offensive mind as it translates on the field.

"He's very creative in the game planning," Harbaugh said. "You see plays that work, that get somebody uncovered. That's hard to do, get somebody uncovered on a passing play or a blocking scheme where there's a big hole. That doesn't happen that often."

[RELATED: Five incredibly bold predictions for 49ers season]

He also said this mentality is something Shanahan is better at "than most of us."

Harbaugh told Kawakami that he's still in contact with some of his former players with the Niners as well. He still talks to Frank Gore and gets family videos from his former defensive end, Justin Smith. And in the coaching ranks, he's still keeping tabs on defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was hired as the Denver Broncos head coach during the offseason. 

At least Shanahan knows there is always someone watching him.