Oh, what a difference a year can make. Bruce Miller can certainly attest.
The confidence and poise the 49ers fullback exudes these days is all directly related to his time in the team’s offseason program, training camp included.
So while Miller and last year’s rookies feel much better about their knowledge of the playbooks, the fullback even sees this year’s newcomers looking further ahead than last year’s bunch.
“They know where they’re supposed to be, they know what they’re doing,” Miller said.
Those young players will see plenty of time against the Houston Texans this Saturday night. Miller, too, is eager to face a physical defense that plays hard.
It’s just like the one he faces every day in practice.
“You get tired of hitting Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman every day,” Miller added. “I look forward to hitting some different guys.”
On the defensive side of the ball, safety Donte Whitner said veteran players experience nerves in the preseason, too.
“Early on in the preseason when you step on the field you tend to get a little nervous,” Whitner explained. “You have a little more jitters than you would normally have in the regular season. It’s fresh, you’re back out there playing in regular live-game action.”
Nerves aside, Whitner wants to put forth a better performance than what San Francisco displayed against Houston during last preseason.
“They moved the ball on us quite easy,” recalled Whitner of a 30-7 home defeat. “We want to go out there and test ourselves this game.”
Whitner said the defense has been tested often in camp by the steadily improving 49ers offense.
“I know I might be a little biased, but I feel we have as many playmakers as any of the good playmakers in the National Football League,” Whitner said. “I feel across the board we can match up with any of those offenses.”
In Whitner’s mind, all the added playmakers will help the offense improve.
“A lot of those guys can do things at multiple positions, so I believe with execution and with detailed-work, these guys can be a really explosive offense,” Whitner said. “I believe the acquisitions that we’ve made with all these guys who can open it up on the outside, it’s really going to allow our run game to flourish.
“That’s how you play football, you don’t have playmakers on the outside, you load the box and let the quarterback beat you because you can stop the run. If you have playmakers on the outside, the defense can’t do that… Everybody helps everybody out and that’s why I think we can be really good.”
The 49ers will have a chance to demonstrate the strides being made on both sides of the ball when they face the Texans Saturday night.
Tags: Bruce Miller, Donte Whitner
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