The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers have two of the NFL’s best offenses, and both employ diverse, ground-shaking fullbacks.
MIAMI — Don’t think fullbacks matter? Turn on the Super Bowl this Sunday.
In one corner, San Francisco 49ers’ star Kyle Juszczyk. In the other, Kansas City Chiefs’ stalwart Anthony Sherman.
Both have Pro Bowl pedigrees. Both are on their second teams. Both have overcome the trend of fullbacks being relegated to the status of dinosaurs, surviving long enough to see a reversal of course by many of the NFL’s best teams.
“History repeats itself,” Sherman said. “So for more and more teams that are going to start using a fullback, I think after they see the success of the past few years of teams really having them on their roster and utilizing them.”
This Sunday, 100+ million will tune in and gaze upon two of the most jacked-up men you’ll ever see in any forum.
“I take a ton of pride in it,” Juszczyk said. “It’s also cool that I know Anthony Sherman personally. We were both in the Pro Bowl last year and I got a chance to spend some time with him. Great guy, great player. It means a lot to be those last couple guys that are still hanging around.
“Who knows, is it coincidence that two teams in the Super Bowl use their fullback?”
It certainly isn’t. A quick survey of the playoffs shows more teams than not utilize a fullback. The New Orleans Saints (Zach Line), Green Bay Packers (Dan Vitale), Minnesota Vikings (C.J. Ham), Baltimore Ravens (Pat Ricard), New England Patriots (Elandon Roberts/James Develin) and Tennessee Titans (Khari Blasingame), Kansas City and San Francisco all use ones to varying degrees.
Barring a major change of course, Juszczyk will see far more offensive snaps in the Super Bowl. This season, the former Harvard star saw 36.59 percent of such plays in the regular season for the Niners, compared to 9.33 percent for Sherman in Kansas City. However, Sherman is a core special teams player for the Chiefs, logging a team-high 73.22 percent of those snaps. Juszczyk is rarely seen on specials, coming in at 8.88 percent.
While their roles are vastly different, both believe offenses around the league are undervaluing the position even with its slow rebirth. While Sherman points out that many fullbacks have good hands to aid the passing game, Juszczyk brought up the afforded scheme versatility.
“Their diversity and their ability to be used in multiple ways,” Juszczyk said. “When you’re playing in the I Formation as a fullback, the advantage you have is you can attack anywhere on the field from that position. When you have two tight ends on one side, it’s hard to attack that other side of the field. When you have a fullback on the field, you just have more options and you can get to more spots on the field with him.”
For two men long playing a position long overlooked by the greater football community, Sunday is a showcase. It’s a chance to win the Lombardi Trophy — a first for either — but also a point of pride.
“The biggest thing is to have another fullback over there,” Sherman said. “Just knowing our position is not going out of style and going extinct. We’re thriving and we’re doing a good job, and the young guys coming into this league are doing a great job too.”