A key piece of the 49ers’ 2024 draft will be stocking its cupboard with players who might be able to take over for some of their aging stars in the next few seasons. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk is one of the players San Francisco needs to start building a long-term contingency plan for, which may help explain part of their interest in UCLA running back Carson Steele.

Steele, who had a virtual meeting with the 49ers according to the Draft Network’s Justin Melo, had a fine career as a running back at Ball State and UCLA. He played in 37 games with 28 starts across three years and posted 3,294 rushing yards with 26 touchdowns on 648 carries. He also hauled in 58 receptions for 486 yards and four touchdowns.

His pure athleticism doesn’t pop on tape, and he clocked a 4.75 40-yard dash at UCLA’s Pro Day. Those athletic limitations may keep him from being an every-down RB in the NFL. That’s where a transition to fullback (in the way the 49ers use one) may be helpful.

Steele has enough movement skills to line up in different spots the way Juszczyk does, and he has enough juice (no pun intended) with the ball in his hands to be a threat as a receiver the way Juszczyk has been with the 49ers.

It’s not a slam dunk that Steele would be able to make the move to fullback. He measured in at UCLA’s Pro Day two inches shorter and seven pounds lighter than Juszczyk’s listed height and weight. That may be a barrier he can’t clear. Not to mention the nuance that comes with such a position change while also trying to fill the sizable shoes Juszczyk will leave behind whenever he does leave San Francisco.

However, it would make a ton of sense for the 49ers to try and explore options to replace Juszczyk and Steele as a late Day 3 pick or undrafted free agent addition is a good candidate.

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