When the 49ers starting fullback, Moran Norris, went down in week two against the Dallas Cowboys, it fell to rookie Bruce Miller to come in and take over. Most fans were very happy about this, as Norris has been one of the most criticized players on the team's roster over the last couple seasons. Norris had reached a point where he was whiffing on blocks and didn't contribute anything else in regards to rushes or the passing game.
So Miller it was. Through the first two weeks, Frank Gore had less than sixty yards with Norris blocking. Miller got the start against the Cincinnati Bengals, and looked pretty good, but the 49ers run blocking wasn't great altogether and Frank Gore didn't have a big game. But then things blew up, and Miller was right in the thick of things.
With the win over the Washington Redskins, Gore secured his fifth straight game of at least 100 rushing yards, becoming the first person in 49ers franchise history to do that. And Bruce Miller was right in the thick of things and directly contributed to the accolade. In fact, Miller has been playing great since his first start, his run blocking has been stellar and he's been a threat in the passing game.
Miller's ability as a blocker can be seen on just about any running play. Maybe his blocks aren't all fundamentally sound at this point, but he's getting his assignments dead on and isn't whiffing by any means. Gore trusts him, and again, there's the added ability offensively. The 49ers beat the Redskins by a touchdown on Sunday, and the only offensive touchdown came from a 30-yard touchdown reception by Miller.
It's not likely that Norris would have been able to run that route and make that catch for that touchdown. It's just not. Norris has never been an offensive weapon, and has gotten the same amount of consideration in the passing game as ... well, as Joe Staley and Isaac Sopoaga did against the Browns. And if Miller is blocking at an above average level, there's no reason to go with Norris. After recovering from a fibula injury, Norris will be able to return to the active roster, but if the 49ers go the way they probably should, he'll be on the bench.