When the 49ers signed Micheal Spurlock in January, the transaction barely caused a ripple. Seven months later, however, Spurlock is making waves. When the 49ers' first-team offense began installing their version of the Wildcat today - they call it "Taser" - Spurlock was the one running the show. Michael Robinson is the first choice at Taser, but because he's currently out of commission with a groin strain, the job has fallen to Spurlock and Arnaz Battle, who ran it with the second team today.
Spurlock played quarterback his senior season as Ole Miss. In fact, he sat behind Eli Manning for three years with the Rebels before he got his chance. Spurlock is listed at 5-11, but you really have to wonder about that figure. He was not invited to the scouting combine in 2006 but he did work out for teams as a kick and punt returner. That's how he got a toe hold in the NFL, with the Cardinals in 2006. He was with Tampa Bay the following season, and he became the first player in Buccaneers history to return a kick return for a touchdown.
Indeed, those same skills that make him a dangerous return man - his initial quickness and his burst - make him attractive to offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye in the Taser. Of course, it also helps that he is a threat to throw the ball, which he did once in practice, a quick hitch to Isaac Bruce. Spurlock also is one of three receivers - Battle and Dominique Zeigler - who have taken advantage of the absences of receivers Brandon Jones and Michael Crabtree. He plays the "Z" or flanker receiver position and also can play the slot. He's also the No. 2 punt and kick returner behind Allen Rossum. "You ask any coach and they'll say, 'the more you can do ...,'" Spurlock said.
And one more thing - he seems like one of the nicest, humble most hard-working guys on the team. In fact, while just about every other player heads back to the team hotel for a nap between practices, Spurlock hangs around at the team facility, eating lunch and studying until his 2:15 p.m. special teams meetings. Spurlock said he needs to keep his moneymaker - his legs - constantly moving and that taking a nap would defeat that purpose. Besides, he said: "I think I get a better night's rest."
Because this was a Taser day, Shaun Hill and Alex Smith spent a lot of time at wideout. When they were under center, they did another switcheroo. That is, Hill was notable for his long ball, particularly a 35 yarder that his Josh Morgan between two defenders. Smith, meanwhile, was efficient on mostly short and intermediate passes. He went 3-4 with his only incompletion coming when Nate Clements blitzed from the corner.
Out today: Delanie Walker (concussion), Patrick Willis (ankle), Tarell Brown (toe) and Justin Smith (rest). Moran Norris was back in action. Jay Moore has a hard cast covering his gashed finger. Good thing - he leaped up and batted down a Hill pass today at practice.
-- Matt Barrows