The San Francisco 49ers return to full on-field practice on Thursday, and they'll have a new player helping out on offense. The 49ers signed defensive lineman/fullback Will Tukuafu, and placed fullback Bruce Miller on injured reserve. The move came after Miller suffered a fractured scapula in the 49ers win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tukuafu begins his second tour of duty with the 49ers. Tukuafu originally signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2010. He was released that same summer, and joined the 49ers in August for training camp. He spent most of 2010 on the practice squad, before being promoted to the active roster in late 2010. He then spent 2011 and 2012 on the 53-man roster. He has been primarily a defensive lineman, but he got a solid amount of work as a part time fullback behind Bruce Miller.
Tukuafu was on the roster to start the season, but was inactive for the Week 1 opener against the Green Bay Packers. He was waived/injured and agreed to an injury settlement, which kept him off injured reserve. The settlement was reported by Matt Maiocco as being one game check. Roster rules allow a player to re-sign with the team that waived/injured him as long as they wait six weeks after the length of the settlement.
I do not expect Tukuafu to become a full-time fullback. Rather, he will provide some options as a blocker in the run and pass game. He might see a pass or two his way, but he has been brought in to block. The 49ers will likely use Anthony Dixon, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek and maybe Derek Carrier as short route receiving options.
Miller is expected to make a full recovery from the injury and should be back in plenty of time for next season. A scapula fracture is a fairly rare injury, so make sure and check out socalisteph's breakdown of the injury.
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