The San Francisco 49ers are a week away from their first set of OTAs, which means the eventual training camp depth chart will start to get a little more clarity. I should say, clarity for the team. Given that OTAs involve no tackling, it's as much about the players learning the playbook, and any adjustments to it for the veterans. This is the kind of stuff we can't really know about, and so we're left to sort of half guess at what exactly is going on.
Nonetheless, this is our second of what should be a series of about 13 posts looking at the various positional depth charts. We started up on Monday with a look at quarterback and running back. This morning, we continue with a look at the running backs. We'll continue with the format of offseason changes, what the depth chart might look like, strengths and weaknesses, and wrapping with a look at what it all means.
The 49ers went into the offseason with Bruce Miller and Will Tukuafu on the roster. Anthony Dixon had played some fullback, but departed in free agency. The 49ers drafted fullback Trey Millard with their final pick in the seventh round.
Bruce Miller has quickly emerged as one of the best fullbacks in the league. It is a bit of a dying position, but Miller has played a huge role for this offense. In 2011 and 2012, he was a big factor in the blocking game, while making some contributions in the passing game, particularly on the swing pass. However, in 2013, he became an integral option for Colin Kaepernick. While Michael Crabtree was out, Miller was essentially the No. 3 pass-catching option for this team behind Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
We'll have to wait and see how Miller recovers from his scapula injury, but for 2014, I don't really see any weaknesses at the fullback position. When Miller went down, Will Tukuafu filled in solidly enough.
What it all means
The 49ers extended Bruce Miller, while also adding a potential red-shirt option in Trey Millard. It is possible Millard could be ready to go midway through the season, but the team is under no pressure at this point to get him out there. In my post-draft 53-man roster projection, I had Will Tukuafu on the roster. The more I think about it, the less likely I see it happening. If Miller is healthy heading into camp (as expected), there are other areas of the roster that need the depth more. Tukuafu could land elsewhere, but if the 49ers needed help later in the season, Millard could very well be healthy enough at that point to contribute.