Central Florida's Bruce Miller was Conference-USA Defensive Player of the Year last season at defensive end, finishing the season with 8 Â½ sacks. At only 6-1, 245 pounds, however, some teams were considering drafting him as an outside linebacker. The 49ers took the conversion one step farther.
They want him to play fullback.
"I am kind of shocked," said Miller on a conference call. "It was hard enough to believe that I was going to play linebacker."
Miller said he worked out with both the linebackers and running backs at UCF's pro day last month but that the 49ers were the only team he'd heard from since that were looking at him as a fullback. He said he had a recent phone conversation with running backs coach Tom Rathman about the position but was still surprised when his phone rang this afternoon.
"I did play a little bit of tight end (in high school) but it wasn't anything like a fullback," he said. "I was a true tight end." Still, Miller was excited about joining his new team. "I'm just ready to get out to SF and play some football," he said.
There is some precedence in the move. The 49ers signed ex-Illinois linebacker Brit Miller as a fullback in 2009 after he failed to catch on with the Panthers as a linebacker. Miller is now with the Rams. And, of course, one of Jim harbaugh's starting linebackers at Stanford last year, Owen Marecic, doubled as a fullback. He was selected by the Browns as a fullback.
With their first compensatory pick, no. 239, the 49ers selected Mike Person, a 6-4, 295-pound tackle from Montana State. A team captain, Person played right tackle in 2009 before switching to left tackle in 2010. He did not allow a sack last season while earning first-team All-Big Sky Conference. Two teams, the Packers and Seahawks, attended his pro day.
Person said the 49ers told him they wanted him to concentrate on center and guard with the 49ers. "The only experience I have (at guard) is doing scout team my freshman year," he said. "But I feel like I have the ability to play all five positions."
The 49ers, of course, traded up in the fifth round to select Appalachian State's Daniel Kilgore, who also will play center and guard. Did Person think the 49ers were no longer interested at that point? "I was kind of thinking that," he said, "but you always have to keep an open mind, and they pulled the trigger on me."
With their final pick, the team chose Florida A&M cornerback Curtis Holcomb, a former teammate of ex 49ers LeRoy Vann. Holcomb is 5-10, 192 pounds. At his pro day, he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. He had 12 interceptions in four years at A&M.
-- Matt Barrows