Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
As was the case with Ahmad Brooks on Saturday, writing about San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller after his off-field incidents this offseason is a little bit weird. I'm still not sure how I feel about the events in question with my limited (non-existent) knowledge (lack of knowledge) about what went down or if the NFL will take action on Miller at some point this coming season.
But we do know plenty about Miller the fullback when it comes to his play on the field, so that's what we're going to discuss here and now. Miller has been an excellent player for the 49ers for some time, blocking very well for much of the four seasons he's been with the team. He doesn't get many looks in the running game or passing game, and I maintain he's an under-utilized asset in that vein.
Miller only carried the ball six times last season, and was targeted 25 times. He caught 18 of those passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. I feel like Miller should be used in the passing game more going forward, and I hope San Francisco feels the same way with the new coaching staff and the new offense.
That said, he makes his money on the back of his blocking, and it's been stellar. Miller, a former defensive lineman, is great at utilizing leverage and getting solid push on defenders, and he's a force when he gets a full head of steam. Last season, I thought he didn't look quite as good as he did in 2013, but then again, nobody on the 49ers did, right?
If you want an example of bad games from Miller when it comes to blocking overall, watch last year's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He didn't get much push in that game at all and disappeared for long stretches of time. His best game was probably against the Oakland Raiders, though he was also solid against the San Diego Chargers and the home game against the St. Louis Rams.
Miller's snaps were all over the place last season as well. The 49ers tried to switch things up a lot, and I thought that was a mistake. They kept bringing in extra blockers and using Vance McDonald instead of Miller and I ultimately felt like Miller was never able to get into a proper rhythm. I definitely think the 49ers are better off with Miller playing more snaps than the 473 he had last season.
Miller is a great run blocker, a solid pass blocker and he has solid receiving ability. He's worth every penny that's paid to him as far as his on-field product is concerned.
Why he could improve:
Miller will turn 28 years old, which isn't as young as it gets in the NFL but he's got plenty of years in the NFL ahead of him. He wasn't utilized properly last season and I think if the 49ers play to his strengths, we could see a dominant season for him. I think there's very little reason to expect Miller will struggle if and when he does find his way onto the football field.
Why he could regress:
Maybe I'm a raving lunatic and Miller actually DOESN'T fit the 49ers' new offense. Maybe he just doesn't mesh well with Carlos Hyde and he doesn't have the confidence of the coaches. There's also the big one: his off-field issues. If he missed time, then that's regression, though I also worry about his mindset going into training camp and the season as a whole. Will he be focused, and has he been doing enough work in the offseason to stay fit and in playing shape? They're questions I don't have the answer to.
Odds of making the roster:
I think something would have to go south with his legal issues for Miller to have any chance of not making the roster. I noticed Trey Milliard has something of a fanbase here on Niners Nation but I just don't see it. Miller has been really, really good for at least three of the four seasons he's played in the league. Miller will be on the roster next season.