8:00 AM ET

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The text message that popped up on Jerick McKinnon‘s phone came from a number he didn’t know. The introduction was fairly formal given the subject matter.

“Hey bro, this is Kyle Juszczyk, fullback for the San Francisco 49ers,” the text began. The duo had never met, but they were well aware of each other, and now Juszczyk was doing some recruiting.

“In free agency, I got ahold of his number and I was letting him know we had some cool things going on over here and I thought he was going to fit in great,” said Juszczyk, who signed with San Francisco in 2017 after three seasons in Baltimore. “I definitely expressed to him like, ‘Dude, if you want your skill set to be used to its full potential, this is where you need to be.’”

Players recruiting one another in free agency is nothing new, but normally those players have at least met.

Before free agency even began, Juszczyk had a strong feeling that Carlos Hyde, the team’s feature back in 2017, would not be returning. Juszczyk took it upon himself to study McKinnon’s game and came to the conclusion that

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