49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 14, 2011
Von Miller wants to be like Derrick Thomas

I was emptying my recorder this morning and thought I'd share this quote from Von Miller from the Senior Bowl. I asked the Texas A&M defensive end/linebacker if he likened himself to any current NFL players. After a required mention of Clay Matthews - if I didn't know better I'd say agents had been coaching their LB clients to mention Matthews - Miller said the following:

"I had a coach by the name of Joe Kines, and he coached Derrick Thomas back when Derrick Thomas was in college," Miller said. "He told me a long time ago that I play similar to him. And that day, I went and got film. I watched his film, studied his film and watched all of his interviews. The point of view he had on the game is similar to the way I feel. And I can never ever be like Derrick Thomas and I can never play like Derrick Thomas. But he played with a fanatical effort, a relentless effort. And that's what I can do. That's what I try to do - to play with that same attitude."

Thomas, of course, is one of the greatest pass rushers in NFL history, and he holds one of the league's truly remarkable records - seven sacks in a single game in 1990. He was voted posthumously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

I thought the comparison was interesting because A.) it showed that Miller is a student of the game and it's nice to see that a player who was born in 1989, the year Thomas was drafted by the Chiefs, knows about and respects one of his forefathers, and B.) because there are similarities.

Miller's size has raised some eyebrows. He measured in at 6-2 5/8, 237 pounds before the Senior Bowl, but said he played at 243 at A&M and hoped to be around 245 pounds at the combine in two weeks. Thomas, meanwhile, was listed at 6-3, 243 pounds coming out of Alabama.

Thomas was extremely quick off the snap and was adept at lowering his inside shoulder and getting around pass blockers. Quickness also appears to be Miller's forte. Thomas once recorded a mind-boggling 27 sacks in once season at Alabama. Miller's numbers aren't as gaudy, but he did lead the nation with 17 sacks in 2009. Thomas was drafted fourth overall by the Chiefs in 1989. Miller? He's a definite possibility to the 49ers at pick No. 7. Tune in April 28....

Thomas died following a car crash in 2000. Many of you have no doubt read Rick Reilly's excellent 2000 column about the incident - Isaac Bruce figures prominently - but many of you youngsters (Jeeze, I'm starting to sound like an old man) may not have seen it. Now get off my lawn.

This Dan Pompei column caught my eye this morning. Pay special attention to the section on Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Remember, the 49ers and Packers personnel departments are pretty tight. Just sayin' ...

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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