When the play known as “Big Sleeper” was called against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London,
The San Francisco 49ers fullback was split out wide, unaccounted for by the Jaguars defense. The resulting 43-yard reception was the longest of Miller’s career and was instrumental in an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to open the game.
Miller, a defensive end at the University of Central Florida, led all active collegiate players with 35.5 sacks during his career with the Golden Knights. A seventh-round selection by the 49ers in 2011, Miller never envisioned having such a diverse role – on offense.
"It’s been exciting for me to be able to evolve into this role as the fullback,” Miller told 49ers.com. "I have a little more each year to put on my plate. It’s an exciting offense to play in.”
Entering rookie minicamp, Miller took a measured approach the playing fullback for the first time.
Miller learned from incumbent fullback Moran Norris during the offseason and earned the starting job by Week 3 of his rookie year.
"To start for me, it was small steps, get through the first week, get through the second week,” Miller said. "Finally, I made it through year one and here we are going into year four. I’m definitely blessed to have the opportunity to make it to this point.”
After signing a contract extension last week that will keep him in Santa Clara through the 2017 season, Miller’s role will continue to expand.
Tight end Delanie Walker, who was known for his versatility as a lead blocker and pass catcher, departed for the Tennessee Titans as a free agent prior to the 2013 season. The majority of Walker’s responsibilities fell on Miller and rookie tight end
Miller said he embraced the challenge of filling the vacant role, and continues to try to live up to Walker’s standard.
"I like to think so, maybe not as well as he did it,” Miller said. "We’re getting better and better each week. Each play, I feel like I’m growing in our offense and I’m able to do more things. I’m looking forward to this year."
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