Two-way players are rare in the NFL these days, but 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh thinks he has a player who can do it in Demarcus Dobbs.
Last year Dobbs made the 49ers as an undrafted free agent and played 12 games as defensive end. This year the 49ers have added tight end to Dobbs’ list of responsibilities, and they’ve actually made tight end his primary position: San Francisco lists Dobbs as a tight end on the roster, and his number has been changed from 96 to 40.
In Friday night’s preseason opener, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Dobbs played both ways. On defense he played well, pressuring Vikings quarterback Joe Webb into two incompletions, one of which was originally called intentional grounding before the referee changed his mind and picked up the flag. On offense he looked a bit uncomfortable and was critical of his own play at tight end.
“It wasn’t all crisp and it didn’t go as well as I planned it to be tonight,” Dobbs said after the game.
Harbaugh has a history of finding multiple roles for talented players: When he was at Stanford he made fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic the only two-way starter in all of major college football. Dobbs isn’t likely to start in San Francisco, but he could get playing time at defensive end, tight end and on special teams, all in one game. For those who pine for the days of Chuck Bednarik, Dobbs is a player worth watching.