San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk is having a big week.
On December 15, Juszczyk was named one of eight finalists for the NFL’s 2020 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which is “presented each year to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.”
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Juszczyk said. “I take pride in just the way that I carry myself and the way I go about my everyday business and how I handle myself on the field. So to get people to recognize that and get a little love for it, it’s a nice little payoff for the hard work I do put in.”
That hard work, along with his talent, is why the fullback was today selected to his fifth-consecutive Pro Bowl.
“Kyle’s as consistent of a person as I’ve really been around,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “…When we Zoom meet with all our players, he’s the only one who looks like he got up, showered, combed his hair, shaved and is sitting right at his desk ready to meet, even though they’re still in their bedrooms. Everything he eats, I think he’s only been eating vegetables since he was eight or something.
“He’s just so by the book in all that stuff, that’s why he’s going to succeed in whatever he does. Not to mention, how good of a football player he is. I mean, the guy is fearless, he’s smart on the field. Most times you get people who are that smart and then they get to the field and they try to play with their brain and they just hesitate left and right because they overthink things. Kyle is one of the smartest guys, most prepared guys I’ve been around, but he reacts in plays and that’s why he’s a hell of a football player, too, and a hell of a person.”
Congratulations to our 2021 Pro Bowlers 👏 pic.twitter.com/orr3g841H2
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 22, 2020
Juszczyk’s work ethic is not lost on his teammates.
“Juice is fantastic,” said 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. “He’s a pro’s pro. He’s a guy who comes to work every day. He does things the right way. He goes out there and competes his butt off, plays really a thankless job and goes out there, and does whatever is asked. If they’re telling him to go and kickoff, they tell him to go and punt, punt return, whatever the case may be, he goes out there and he executes the job at a high level. And he also does things off the field, making sure that his teammates are okay, making sure that that guys are prepared, guys are mentally in a great spot. And I think that those are the things that go unnoticed or are unseen. But I’m grateful to see him being recognized for such an award because he deserves it.”
This season, Juszczyk has 61 rushing yards on 15 carries and two rushing touchdowns, while he also has 16 receptions for 188 yards and two touchdowns. As always with Juszczyk, the stats don’t tell the whole story. He is a key blocker and when the ball does get in his hands, good things usually happen.
“…[W]hether it’s a Zoom meeting or we’re actually on the practice field, I like to be prepared and be ready to go,” Juszczyk said. “…[W]e’ll have a 7:15 Zoom meeting and yeah, I got up, I showered, I brushed my teeth. I’m ready to go. I’m not trying, I don’t want to be one of the guys that’s still laying in bed and isn’t focused and ready to go. So I try to set that example for the rest of my teammates.”
For rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the example Juszczyk has set has been a benefit in his first year in the NFL.
“Before we got up [to Arizona], that was my locker mate,” Aiyuk said. “My locker was right next to him. He was one of the first guys that I really got to know and really opened up to, but Kyle has been being great. Just in terms of when I got here, he was just every question, anything that needed to be answered, he was helping me from my nutrition to recovery rehab on the field, just life outside of football. If I ever needed anything, Kyle was there to help me with those things. So I appreciate him a lot and definitely hoping that award goes to him.”
The award will be presented as part of the NFL Honors.