Kyle Juszczyk knows a thing or two about what it takes to win in the NFL, spending over a decade with two of the most successful franchises in the league.
During a recent interview on the "49ers Talk" podcast, Juszczyk shared how his four years in Baltimore taught him what goes on behind the scenes to cultivate a championship culture at an organizational level.
"Everybody was held very accountable," Juszczyk said. "Obviously, on the field and how you played, and knowing your assignments and all those kinds of things. Also, just being around in the building. Just being a good person, being on time. When you're in the meeting room, being checked in and dialed in and actually paying attention, there was such a stress on that. There was so much leadership and a certain way had already been set before I got there.
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"When you came in, you can sense it, you can feel it, and you just tried to fit in right away. Definitely a very stable organization."
Fresh off a 2-14 season the year before Juszczyk joined the 49ers in 2017, San Francisco didn't have anywhere near the same track record as his previous team when it came to boasting an established culture.
However, despite an 0-9 start to the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan era, there was still a positive vibe around the organization that is uncommon for a team struggling to win games.
"It's hard to understand unless you were there," Juszczyk said. "Even when we were 0-9, it wasn't miserable to come to work. Where, like, you can imagine a lot of places, when you're 0-9, it ain't fun. It's not like we were having a ball, because like we weren't winning, but we were still looking forward to like coming into work, and getting to work, and getting better. It's just hard to describe unless you were there. It was just different from what you'd expect for a team that wasn't winning games yet."
San Francisco 49ers
Now in his seventh season with the team, Juszczyk spoke about how valuable the stability at the top is, with Shanahan and Lynch both receiving contract extensions that tie the pair to the 49ers through the 2027 NFL season.
"It's huge," Juszczyk said. "It just motivates you more to work hard because you know it's going toward something that's valuable. I feel like I got a small taste of it my third year in the league. Joe Flacco tore his ACL, we had a new offensive coordinator midseason, there were a lot of injuries in our recieving core, our running backs, we were down to guys that were barely even on the team and training camp, midseason. And we weren't winning games, and it was a weird thing knowing the guys I'm playing next to, they probably won't even be here next year.
"And going out there each week, and playing for a job next year, was a really weird feeling, unsettling. And honestly, it's not as motivating. It's so much easier to go out there and give your all and really dedicate and lock in when you know it's going toward something and knowing that you're building toward something that's going to be there and be stable."
That stability has manifested into three trips to the NFC Championship Game, providing a sustained level of excellence that is a far cry from the turbulent start in Juszczyk's first year with the team.