It's really hard to not get sucked into the hype and exceedingly hard to avoid the biggest of hate trains. While the 49ers' rookie fullback, Bruce Miller, may not be riding a monumental wave of hype, he's definitely reaping the dividends of a hate train pointed in the opposite direction. Much to the delight of many 49ers fans, the team's starting fullback, Moran Norris, missed Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Miller got the start in his place.
What followed was a pretty good game, where Miller didn't do anything amazing, but did show some things that puts him above Norris. Miller's lead blocking is what should matter the most, and while he didn't do anything overly impressive there, any baby step will be considered a huge achievement to fans, due to the aforementioned hate train. That's not necessarily an admonishment of their behavior, they're not being unrealistic about their excitement for the guy.
After all, he's a rookie converting from the defensive side of the ball, and showed no discernible drop-off in talent from a guy who's been something not entirely unlike "average" his entire career. Miller did show some things that make him look a bit better than Norris: he's fast, and aware. He looked good catching the ball and he looked like he had a lot of quick movement getting into his blocks. He did have the fumble, but beyond that, he looked every bit a capable fullback.
Norris stayed in the Bay Area for rehab and isn't currently with the team, so one has to feel he'll probably miss the game against the Philadelphia Eagles. If Miller gets another chance to look at least as good, if not better, than Norris, you can bet he'll get that starting job. Jim Harbaugh is a rookie head coach and he's looking to make sure his team is as good as it can be for as long as it can. Miller might just make the team better.