The San Francisco 49ers are rolling towards their bye week with a 6-2 record, 2nd in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks. They have played stout defense and their run attack is leading their offensive game. One of the only weaknesses for the 49ers is their lack of weapons in the passing game with only Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, contributing this season. The third leading receiver on this team is not a wide receiver, running back or tight end, it is fullback Bruce Miller.
Sometimes Miller gets lost in shuffle on this team because this team is stacked with pro bowlers at almost every position but he may be the most versatile of any of his teammates. He is the lead blocker for Frank Gore, who is having another great year. Gore has rushed for 618 yards, 3rd in the NFL and has rushed for seven touchdowns, 2nd on the NFL. The biggest reason why he has had such a great season is Bruce Miller.
Miller does not do much in the passing game but he is the third leading receiver behind Davis and Boldin. He had a key play in the first quarter against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars when the 49ers ran a play called “The Big Sleeper.” They tried running it last year with Colin Kaepernick lining up out wide against the New York Jets with Alex Smith at quarterback but the Jets called timeout. But on Sunday, the 49ers ran the play to perfection, lining Miller out wide as a receiver. The Jaguars were confused on defense and failed to cover Miller, which resulted in a 43 yard reception on the second play of the game.
Miller not only plays on offense as their fullback but he also plays on special teams. He has not made many tackles on special teams but has an impact shedding blockers allowing his teammates to make plays. You don’t see many fullbacks playing on special teams and if you do, you don’t see them making the impact Miller makes. His stellar play on special teams might be a result of his college career.
Miller, a defensive end from Central Florida, was asked to play fullback for the 49ers when he was drafted in the 7th round in 2011. This seemed like a gamble for the 49ers since he was dominant defensive end, becoming the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 36. You won’t see Miller helping the defensive line with such a dominant defense littered with all-pros but if called upon, I bet he could perform admirably because he is the 49ers’ Swiss Army knife.
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