When Jim Harbaugh was first introduced as head coach, he announced an intention to implement a West Coast style of offense with the 49ers. As we know from our 49ers history, Tom Rathman at fullback proved to be an important cog in that offense. We haven't heard that he's officially coming back as running backs coach in 2011, but it seems like it's expected.
As the 49ers prepare for the 2011 NFL Draft, their key areas of concern appear to be quarterback, pass rusher off the edge, and defensive backs. Although these are key areas, I have to wonder if Coach Harbaugh will look into getting a fullback to compete with Moran Norris in training camp. Moran Norris has one more year on his contract, but I wouldn't be shocked if the team tried to find a replacement for him sooner rather than later.
Free agency fullbacks are certainly possible, but I could see Coach Harbaugh also trying to grab someone in the draft. His own fullback at Stanford, Owen Marecic is certainly a possibility, but I'll save my comments on him for next week's Senior Bowl coverage. I wanted to use this post to look at some of the fullbacks working out at the East-West Shrine Game and what they've done so far.
He's undersized (5-11, 240 pounds) and fullbacks border on extinct in the NFL, but I was impressed with Sherman. He's competed all week. He's tough and has some power at the point of attack. He also has good hands. He caught the ball smoothly and got up the field. It's a pretty good fullback class and right now he's No. 6 in the class. He's a longshot to get drafted yet he's done nothing but help himself this week.
DraftInsider.net also had nothing but positive things to say about Sherman. It's safe to say this is a guy John Madden would salivate over during a game. Whether that's a good thing or bad thing remains to be seen, but Sherman seems like a guy that would become a fan favorite wherever he ends up.
Tues: Displayed deceptive speed and on a number of occasions was able to turn the corner carrying the ball. Blue collar blocker.
Wed: Threw a number of devastating blocks today. Worked hard and a tough football player.
Tues: Was devastating as a lead blocker, at one point removing Dontay Moch from the action on a running play. Also caught the ball well.
Wed: Another terrific performance. Hands down the best blocker on the West squad and again showed good hands catching the ball out of the backfield.
Scouts Inc ranks Owen Marecic as the number one fullback, with Anthony Sherman listed sixth and Patrick DiMarco twelfth. Their top five fullbacks rank as follows (there's a distinct spread between Marecic and the rest):