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.”

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”