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A couple months ago, San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk was scrolling by way of Twitter when a image from Los Angeles Chargers fullback Derek Watt appeared on his timeline.

The photo caught Juszczyk’s consideration. Perched on Watt’s head was a black hat with white lettering that study “Make Fullbacks Fantastic Once more.” Juszczyk promptly sent Watt a message asking exactly where he got it.

As it turned out, the hat was a present from Atlanta Falcons fullback Keith Smith and Watt was sending a hat to all of the other members of the NFL’s fullback fraternity. Juszczyk received his two days later and liked it so considerably that he ordered a lot more and threw in a hoodie for excellent measure.

Even though most position groups across the league have a particular quantity of kinship, you’d be really hard-pressed to discover 1 that is closer than the fullbacks. That is due to the fact there is not a position in the league that has a lot more regularly been stated to be on the brink of extinction.

“It is cool due to the fact there is not a lot of us,” Juszczyk stated. “So, it is just sort of like across teams, you really feel like your personal tiny group just due to the fact we’re all sort of going by way of the very same factor. I am fortunate sufficient that I get a fairly decent quantity of recognition about right here but a lot of other fullbacks in the league never actually get that recognition so they all sort of band with each other and give every other that recognition.”

Juszczyk and his fellow fullbacks have been hearing the narrative for years. Their position is supposedly “dying,” but current proof would indicate that not only is the fullback surviving but thriving.

Kyle Juszczyk has produced the Pro Bowl 3 consecutive years as a fullback. Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

“Not just about every group makes use of my position,” Watt stated. “But teams that do, at least a handful that remained in the playoffs late final year, a majority of them had a fullback on the roster. I am not saying that correlates to something, but these teams that produced it deep in the playoffs did have a fullback. That is just an observation.”

In San Francisco, Juszczyk is an integral piece to every thing coach Kyle Shanahan desires to do offensively. According to ESPN Stats & Facts, he’s played 144 snaps at the position this season, second to C.J. Ham of the Minnesota Vikings, who has played 167. And Juszczyk is maintaining tabs on the rest of the group, convinced that the fullback is generating a comeback and rattling off the statistics without having getting to cease to feel about it.

“It is so funny everyone is like, ‘Oh, the fullback is dying, the fullback is dying,'” Juszczyk stated. “I imply, there is nevertheless 21 teams that have a fullback employed ideal now and everyone makes use of somebody else in that position if they never have a fullback. But I actually really feel like the fullback play has been a lot superior this season … I do feel there is a resurgence. NFL offenses are so cyclical. Every thing just comes about in a circle.”

Juszczyk did not play fullback till the NFL, as he played tight finish at Harvard. Watt’s progression to the position came about a bit differently.

A prolific runner in higher college, he totaled two,685 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns for the duration of his prep profession. He also served as the team’s kicker and punter, earning Wisconsin state player of the year and USA Currently All-America honors his final season at Pewaukee Higher College.

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Immediately after a brief stint at linebacker at Wisconsin, Watt switched back more than to the offensive side of the football to find out the fullback position, and has been there ever due to the fact, discovering his correct calling as an NFL player.

Chosen in the sixth round by the Chargers in the 2016 draft, Watt’s strength is his versatility as a run-blocker, pass-catcher and core unique-teams player. Watt has played just 62 snaps on offense this season by way of seven games, but 145 snaps on unique teams for the Chargers.

“It is just one more element that defenses have to be concerned about,” he stated. “If you happen to be going to play fullback in the NFL, you have got to play unique teams, for the most element. Most of the guys that are fullbacks are a number of contributors on unique teams, not just in 1 phase.”

Watt stated 1 factor that helped his transition to the NFL is that he went to a college like Wisconsin, which areas a priority on employing a pro-style offense and operating the football.

“Teams that have not utilised fullbacks in the previous are sort of incorporating it by employing a fullback, or sort of a hybrid tight finish playing that position a lot more than you utilised to see,” Watt stated, when asked about the future of the position. “So who knows? The game adjustments a lot. Hopefully we’re nevertheless about.”



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