Last year when the 49ers lost FB Bruce Miller in Week 15 they went with big back Anthony Dixon and former DT Will Tukuafu in his place. Both filled in admirably and Greg Roman, for the most part, was able continue running the football. Still, the loss of Miller was a big blow to the physicality of the 49ers offense, especially up the middle. Recognizing the need for depth at FB the 49ers selected Trey Millard from Oklahoma University with their last pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Weight: 247 lbs
Arm Length: 31"
Hands: 9' 1/8"
*Millard did not compete in any pre-draft workouts due to an ACL tear in October of 2013.
- Great size.
- Versatile and experienced. Millard was OU's starting H-back from the day he arrived on campus. He's lined up everywhere from tight end to fullback, running back and even wide reciever. He also recorded 32 career tackles on special teams. Voted a team captain. You just know Jim Harbaugh loved that.
- Millard is solid with the ball in his hands. He's not a burner by any means but he has decent wiggle for a man his size. He also has great hands recording 70 receptions over the course of his career. Seven went for touchdowns. 13 total career touchdowns.
- Willing and capable blocker. Millard shows occasional signs of being a physically dominant blocker. Shows ability to seal off defenders and is quick to the second level when asked to.
- Millard never missed a game until tearing his ACL last October.
- Although Millard doesn't have a history with injuries, you never know how someone will respond to a serious knee injury. From all accounts, Millard's rehab seems to be on schedule. Still, baring another injury to Miller there will be no rush to get Millard on the field. He's a candidate for the PUP.
- I don't see a truly physical run blocker in Millard. That's not to say he couldn't get he job done, I just like a FB that has a little mean-streak and is a physical bully. I'm not sure that's in Millard's nature. It seems if Millard doesn't get a defender head on he tends to struggle to make the block and is too inconsistent. He'll need to work on technique and finishing blocks once he's healthy.
- If he doesn't improve his blocking, Millard could still end up playing a role as a pass catching H-back. Similar to that of Delanie Walker when he was here and Vance McDonald currently. But I'm not sure Millard has the speed or athleticism to excel in that position.
Doing your homework:
Check out Millard here vs. Texas in 2012. It was arguably the best game of his career as he posted 45 rushing yards on three carries and 119 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
What others are saying:
CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler says: "Above average versatility to be a threat blocking, rushing, receiving and on special teams helps save a roster spot. Runs with purpose and energy. Team-first attitude with a feisty competitive spirit. Strong football intangibles and team captain."
SF Chronicle's Kevin Lynch said of Millard the night he was drafted: "At that size, Millard could also help the team convert short yardage plays, which was a difficulty for the 49ers last year. Millard also has the mentality of a fullback, meaning he's willing to sacrifice his body and glory for somebody else's success as a lead blocker."
Check out Millard's stats at CFBstats.com
The selection of Millard was the 49ers third of the 2014 draft of a player recovering from a knee injury. Of the three, Millard is the one mostly likely to recover in time to play this season. Still, I don't think we see him on the field unless Bruce Miller was to suffer another late season injury.
When Millard does finally return to the field it will most likely be on special teams. Think of a slightly less athletic Anthony Dixon. He's extremely unlikely to unseat Miller who has evolved into one of the best fullbacks in the league. Millard's effective enough in open space to potentially play a role in the passing game. As an H-back, he would line up in various positions in the backfield and at tight end, similarly to how he did at Oklahoma. I like Vance McDonald's potential there, but some extra competition never hurt anybody.
Barring an unforeseen setback, I think Millard will pan out nicely for the 49ers. I don't think he's an every-down player but he's someone that would excel in leading the special teams unit while being an effective situational runner/blocker/pass catcher. All for a seventh round pick.