Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
It was a bit of a roller-coaster of emotion for Will Tukuafu this past season. Although Tukuafu was first signed as a defensive lineman, he made the 49ers 2013 roster out of training camp as a fullback. He had played both defensive tackle and some fullback in 2012, but 2013 was strictly about fullback for him. He was inactive Week 1, and then was waived/injured when the team activated Demarcus Dobbs from the reserve/suspended list. Tukuafu cleared waivers, and agreed to a 1-game injury settlement. That meant the team could re-sign him after the one game had passed.
The team did end up re-signing Tukuafu, but not until December 18. Fullback Bruce Miller fractured his scapula Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and was placed on injured reserve. The 49ers worked out Tukuafu and quickly signed him to the roster. He was active the final two regular season games, and then all three playoff games
Why he might improve:
Tuk was very solid as the 49ers fullback. And given that he had made the conversion from defensive lineman, it was all the more solid. The more time he spends working as a fullback, the more he can learn about the position from a playback and technique standpoint. His opportunities will regress with Bruce Miller back, but if he were to make the roster, there is some room for growth.
Why he might regress:
This is really more about his roster chances than anything else. Bruce Miller is back at practice and seems to be just about recovered from his scapula injury. Given the 49ers overall depth, roster spots are incredibly precious. They've been that way throughout the three seasons of Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke, but this year it seems even more so. It's going to be tough to earn a spot as a backup fullback.
Odds of making the roster:
I'd say somewhere between 25 and 50 percent. Bruce Miller is one of the best fullbacks in the NFL, and the 49ers have since added Trey Millard with a seventh round pick. Millard is probably going to start the season on the NFI list, but he is potentially further along in his recovery than Brandon Thomas and Keith Reaser. Millard suffered his ACL tear last October, and all signs point to a solid recovery so far. Even if Millard sat out the entire season, I'm just not sure I see Tukuafu making the roster. He likely would play some special teams, but otherwise would be a backup fullback. Does anybody think there's a strong chance of a return based on that?