Hey San Francisco 49ers fans, remember fullback Owen Marecic? He was one of the most talked-about fullback prospects we've seen in a while, primarily due to his effectiveness with the Stanford Cardinal and, at least here at Niners Nation, his affiliation with head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The whole belief that a college coach making the transition to the NFL automatically equates to said coach drafting/targeting players he coached in college was always silly. It was silly to think that Pete Carroll would go after Taylor Mays and it was silly to think that the Buffalo Bills would target Ryan Nassib in this year's draft.
In other words, coaches are going to do what's best for their team in the NFL, and that team is rarely composed the same way their college team was composed. Not every player fits, and not every player in college was that coach's first choice to begin with.
But Marecic did have a different kind of aura about him. Everything we heard from Harbaugh from the get-go seemed to imply that he was always after exactly the kind of player that Marecic was. Harbaugh wanted hard workers who would do whatever, embrace contact and on top of that, the 49ers desperately needed some help at the fullback position.
The link to Marecic was real, and when the Cleveland Browns drafted Marecic in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, many here were upset. San Francisco eventually drafted Bruce Miller, a defensive end/outside linebacker, and converted him to fullback. At the time, Harbaugh was honest about the fact that he would have drafted Marecic at some point, possibly in the same round that Cleveland did.
From there, though, Marecic was no longer our concern. It was all about Miller, and he performed exceptionally well. Miller is one of the better fullbacks the 49ers have had in some time, and he should have an increased role as the lead blocker next season.
Marecic, on the other hand, has been struggling. I wrote about his struggles a little bit earlier on Sunday for SB Nation. The gist of it is that Marecic regressed big time last season, and was replaced by a tight end as the lead blocker for rookie Trent Richardson. Now Marecic has just one more chance to impress the new coaching staff once training camp rolls around. If he can't do that, he might be released.
Would Marecic have had a better career if he ended up in San Francisco, or did the 49ers indisputably get the better player in Miller? I have to admit I was fully on the Marecic bandwagon but he just hasn't picked up the game at the next level just yet.