Week three of OTAs has concluded, which means three weeks of being a tight end for former San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller. It's not the first time that Miller has changed positions in football; he was a defensive end in college when he attended the University of Central Florida.
Interestingly, Miller was not told that his position had changed until he arrived at the 49ers facility for the offseason program. He went to join the running backs for meetings and coach Tom Rathman informed him that he would be with the tight ends.
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins, who spoke to the media for the first time during OTAs, talked about Miller and his transition to his new position.
Bruce has done a good job. Bruce is very unique football player, he has some unique abilities. He's very sharp, so his ability to learn a lot of information is good and I think Bruce has done a really, really good job of adjusting to what we're asking him to do. So, I think some versatility in any offense, particularly this one, helps you, right? It can do nothing but help you. So, we look forward to seeing what positions we can put Bruce in to help us. So, he's done a good job. We've been very impressed.
He also explained what makes Miller a unique football player.
He can run. He's an aggressive football personality because he has some of the other side of the ball in him. He understands football because I think he's been exposed to a lot. He can just do a little bit of everything pretty good.
#49ers Bruce Miller doing drills with his new group: the TEs pic.twitter.com/6on8Ka5vIa— Jennifer Chan (@jenniferleechan) May 25, 2016
Miller spoke to the media after practice. You can watch the full video here.
How's life as a tight end?
Life as a tight end is good. It's fun. I'm having a good time out there.
What makes it so much fun?
Just getting to do some different things. Obviously getting to touch the football a little more has been fun, but then, just getting to do some different things, show some versatility and hopefully they're liking what they're seeing.
There's still a lot of similarities between FB and TE in terms of blocking, things you're already accustomed to, right?
Yeah, still got to block them. DEs, OLBs, LBs Still got to be able to block. The thing I like more is is being closer to them. They're a little bit bigger than I am so I like getting close to them and getting to them a little quicker.
Has your weight loss made translated to more speed?
You tell me. (smiles)
Well, I don't know...
I don't know, I feel like I'm moving better but (laughing) I don't know, I kinda look the same on film.
Your OC said you're fast, have you ever heard that before?
Heck yeah! I've been down first a couple times on kick off.
But you're always fast for a defensive end.
There we go. I'll go with that. I've been up and down. Sometimes I've felt a little heavier, a little bit slower but then I felt like last year I was down a little bit and I was moving around pretty well and then continued that thought the off season and I feel like I'm moving around pretty well right now.
You said playing up close is more fun?
I mean I guess especially with movement, playing FB, they want you to move these guys. They close down and you gotta be able to make contact and be able to move guys out of the way. That's difficult sometimes when they're 280-290 pounds and I'm 245-250. That being said, being closer, you can kind of keep that space in there with hands and feet and be able to position yourself a little bit better. So that, I feel like, has been a little bit easier on me and it will be easier when we put pads on as far as having to move those guys out of the way when you're coming on a lead block.
Is it easier on the body as well?
Sure. Just the distance and the contact, that distance is a lot different when you're playing at the lime of scrimmage.
Does it save your brain a little bit too?
I don't know. They still hit hard.
Has there been anymore talk about combining FB work into the mix?
Just right now, with the installs we're trying to learn everything and I'm sure that role will probably define itself a little bit more when we start game planning but right now, I'm trying to learn everything. TE, HB, RB WR, just trying to learn the offense because you have to be able to know concepts and fit in everywhere. So we're trying to learn everything.
What has to be done with the offense next week during mini camp?
Oh, I'm not sure. That's...to be seen. I haven't been through a mini camp with these guys yet so we've got a lot in, but I'm sure we have a lot to go, and a lot to learn.
Can you compare the learning curve going from defense to offense and now to TE?
Just at fullback I got do a little bit of that, at the end of each season. Definitely defense to offense was a much greater learning curve than from FB to TE just because I've been there at some point a little bit and kind of had an idea of what was going on.
What have you done to refine your route running?
Just running routes, a lot of them. Just constantly working the top of the routes, getting off the ball and just continue running routes. As many as I can run before we start.
Who have you watched? Anyone in particular?
Yeah, a lot of our guys run great routes and I try to watch them as much as I can but on the tape, when we're watching, Philly, those guys do a really god job. Jason Witten, I mean he runs some of the best routes in the league. So, we watch them.
Previously your position was more assured. Is there more stress now?
No, not really. Even though it may have appeared to some people a little bit more solidified, to me, I took that mentality into every year. They brought in younger guys than me. My goal was, number one, to perform well, offensively, and on special teams and I'm taking that mentality into this year.
The fullback position has been kind of phased out. Is this something you saw coming?
When we hired coach Kelly I figured that role would change.
What do have you seen from coach Modkins?
Just exciting football. When we watch their film, an exciting offense and a lot of big plays and hopefully a lot of points. Like I said, I enjoy playing in his offense. It's been great.