Going into the preseason, we had a lot of discussion here about the fullback battle. Almost every roster projection I read had Brit Miller making the roster without a doubt. A lot of them had Miller as the starting fullback, and I made the point that I don't see how you can say that. He just hadn't shown much blocking prowess, and that's most important for a 49ers fullback.
Moran Norris was and is penciled in as the starter. But who is the backup at this point? In week one, it was Brit Miller and Nate Byham taking the immediate "backup" snaps. In week two, it was Jehuu Caulcrick. In a recent article from one of the other beat reporters, they noted that Caulcrick appeared to have passed Miller up for the backup job, but I'm not entirely sure.
While it's true that Caulcrick had a pretty darn good game and that Miller didn't actually take any snaps at fullback last Sunday against the Vikings, he was in an important starting role on the team. Maybe one a bit more suited for his current talents and possibly even more important for the team. Make the jump for more.
Brit Miller exclusively played special teams against the Vikings. More specifically, he slotted into the spot of injured linebacker Scott McKillop, who himself slotted into the spot of Jeff Ulbrich when Ulbrich went down, and he played very well. McKillop was the surprise performer on special teams and he looked to be a piece of that special teams core for a long time, as well as a solid backup. Now that he's out for the season, he sorely needs to be replaced, and that's where Miller comes in.
It's my thoughts that Caulcrick didn't necessarily pass him up for the fullback battle, more so a combination of the team needing a longer look at Caulcrick at FB and a longer look on special teams for Miller. Being at the game, I've found that one thing I get an incredibly good look at is special teams. When you watch the games on TV, you're at the mercy of which couple players you see on camera, but when I was there I took some notes on Miller's play.
He looked really, really good out there. I can't recall any huge tackles, and he did have a bad whiff on one of the coverage units, but more often than not, he led the unit well. He looked very fast and very natural out there, and it's my opinion that after one or two adjustments, he will fit perfectly in McKillop's role and earn a roster spot in that vein. As for the adjustments, he just needs to slow it down a little bit so he can change direction with more ease.
Does he have a place at FB anymore? I think so, but I'm not thinking it's his route to the roster any longer. I think Caulcrick had a pretty darn good game on Sunday and I want to see more of him. Maybe he can push Moran Norris? I'm not completely eliminating Miller, especially because I think he looked good against the Colts minus one missed block he didn't have much of a chance to make anyway.
Nate Byham deserves a mention as well, I suppose. He's looked good lining up there, and it may make Caulcrick expendable, but I'm not convinced. I suppose we'll need to watch when we play the Raiders. I'll be paying special attention to the FB position. Maybe Miller showed enough against the Colts to the point where he wouldn't need to play against the Vikes? Who knows.