Seventh-round draft pick Bruce Miller is in California for the first time since the draft and is taking part in his first 49ers practice today, according to his Twitter account and reports from San Jose State. Miller, who is being converted from defensive end to fullback, was the lone offensive player who did not take part in the team's June 6-9 minicamp.
Like several other 49ers rookies, including running back Kendall Hunter and cornerback Curtis Holcomb, Miller spent the first four days this week at the rookie symposium in Bradenton, Fla. that was put on by the NFLPA. After Thursday's session, he flew to the Bay Area.
Miller has perhaps the most daunting task of all the 49ers players this summer. He not only is a rookie who didn't have the benefit of a normal offseason program. He also is transitioning from defense to offense. Miller (6-2, 248) will compete against veteran Moran Norris, who has attended every day of the 49ers two player-led minicamps.
Shortly after he was drafted, Miller admitted to being "kind of shocked" that a team took him as a fullback. He said he played tight end -- "it was a true tight end," he said -- in high school, but was on the defensive side of the ball all four years at Central Florida. Miller said he had talked with running backs coach Tom Rathman in the run-up to the draft but still was surprised when the 49ers called.
"It was kind of hard for me to believe that I was going to have a chance to play linebacker; that was a little bit more realistic than fullback," Miller said. "So, I'm pretty shocked that I got the opportunity to play as a fullback, however, they did say that, 'Come in and hopefully get comfortable at the position and maybe in a little while we can try some rush on the defensive side."
General Manager Trent Baalke also has said that Miller will get a chance to show what he can do as an outside linebacker but that the team primarily is interested in him as a fullback.
Back in March, I linked to a column in which Thomas Boswell, a veteran of a couple of baseball strikes, warned readers not get caught in the ebb and flow of the NFL negotiations. His words seem particularly prescient after the good news/bad news/so so news of the last 48 hours. Here's an excerpt:
"Fans of the NFL, even the most ardent, should also learn something from baseball's misery: Don't care. Or care as little as you can. Don't live and die with the latest twist in talks. ... Because there is one certainty when labor fights get this intense: Neither side cares about you. If you pick a favorite and scream your opinion, then you're probably the sucker. The owners will only listen to those who back them. The same goes for the players. The sound that really worries them is silence. Try to provide it. "
Bruce Miller may be on hand for today's minicamp practice, but I am not. Due to budgetary concerns -- dear recent college graduates, don't go into journalism -- The Bee requires employees to use all their vacation time by the end of the year. I figure this is the last window to take some time off before the league year - and with it a hyper free-agency period - cranks up. For the next week, consider me a groundhog: I will only pop my head up if there's something big happening outside.
-- Matt Barrows