The 49ers say they signed fullback Owen Marecic earlier in the year so that if there was a chance to bring him back later, he could hit the ground running. That opportunity arose this week when fullback Bruce Miller was diagnosed with a broken scapula. The 49ers dialed Marecic's number but ...
... "Basically it came down to Owen choosing not to pursue playing in the National Football League any more at his time," general manager Trent Baalke said Friday on 95.7 The Game. "It had nothing to do with a decision that was made by myself or coach (Jim Harbaugh). It was a decision solely made by Owen."
Marecic, of course, played for Harbaugh at Stanford where he was one of Harbaugh's favorite players. Harbaugh said the 49ers tried to draft Marecic in 2011 but he was snagged by the Browns in the fourth round instead. He was a disappointment in Cleveland and was cut before this season. The 49ers signed him for four weeks starting in September partly because Miller was struggling a bit at the time and partly, Baalke said, as a crash course in learning the 49ers' system.
"That's one of the reasons Owen was in here earlier in the year," Baalke said. "So we could get him some reps, knowing that there was a good chance we weren't going to be able to keep him through the season. But schooling him up, giving him an opportunity to get back into this system, learn it a little bit better. And then if we needed him, at some point being able to go back to him. So it just didn't play out. And that was totally Owen's choice, nobody else's."
There has been speculation that Marecic symbolized a rift between Harbaugh, who wanted him on the team, and Baalke, who didn't. That's not the case, Baalke said. "I think that's all overblown," he said of reports about a tense relationship between coach and general manager. "It's no different than it's been on Day 1." Baalke said he was on the "exact same page" as Harbaugh when it came to Marecic.
With Marecic out of the picture, the 49ers signed 293-pound former defensive lineman/fullback Will Tukuafu on Wednesday. Anthony Dixon, however, likely will get the first shot at replacing Miller at fullback.
-- Matt Barrows