Ryan Fitzpatrick already had been in the NFL for four seasons when Kyle Juszczyk made the decision to attend Harvard University.
Jusczyk had most of the Ivy League schools recruiting him, along with his lone Division I offer from Miami of Ohio.
Although Fitzpatrick was not the reason Juszczyk chose Harvard, seeing multiple Harvard alums in the National Football League certainly was an influence that led him to attend the university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“I might not have spoken about it at the time, but deep down, that was my goal,” said Juszczyk, the 49ers’ starting fullback. “I wanted to play in the NFL. And seeing other guys from Harvard who paved the way and set that standard, that really helped me choose them and let me know this is a possibility.
“If these guys can do it, I can go out there and make this happen, as well.”
Juszczyk cited Harvard alums Fitzpatrick, six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski, a fourth-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2000 as players who provided him hope of an NFL career.
He says those individuals showed him that Harvard could not only set him up for life after football, it could provide him training for a life in football.
Juszczyk, 29, is a four-time Pro Bowl player.
The 49ers on Sunday face the Miami Dolphins and Fitzpatrick, their 37-year-old quarterback who is in his second season with his eighth different NFL team.
Juszczyk and Fitzpatrick are the two best among six Harvard products currently on NFL rosters. The others are Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate, New Orleans Saints center Nick Easton, Tennessee Titans tight end Anthony Firkser and Seattle Seahawks long-snapper Tyler Ott.