Dobbs could be Niners' secret weapon

Brian Billick previews the 49ers-Packers matchup.
Brian Billick previews the 49ers-Packers matchup.
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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.


San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh displayed some “mad scientist” tendencies last season with trick plays that included passes to 300-pound linemen aligned as tight ends and wide receivers.

Harbaugh’s latest experiment? Demarcus Dobbs.

After sticking as an undrafted rookie defensive tackle in 2011, Dobbs has tackled a new challenge in 2012. He also is serving as San Francisco’s third tight end behind Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker.

No other player in the league has such a dual role. And considering Dobbs’ demanding workload, one can understand why.

Throughout training camp, Dobbs split time evenly at both positions. He did the same when attending offensive and defensive meetings.

“I know I have limited time in both of the meetings,” Dobbs said. “All the information said is vital. I have to get that, write it down and make sure I can study it for later.”

Dobbs said the athleticism he displayed last season on special teams — another responsibility he continues to handle in 2012 — caught the attention of San Francisco’s coaching staff. They began practicing him at tight end during the preseason and even changed his jersey number from No. 96 to No. 83.

Dobbs, who was a defensive lineman exclusively at the University of Georgia, admits trying to learn tight end from “ground zero has been pretty difficult” and the defensive snaps take a physical toll. Asked how he survived training camp, Dobbs laughed and said, “Guys preach a lot about taking care of your body. There were a lot of ice tubs, a lot of rehab of everything, (medical) treatment after practices and a whole lot of praying.”

The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Dobbs finished with two tackles during the preseason but has yet to record his first NFL catch. Knowing Harbaugh’s history of chicanery, that reception could come when the opposition least expects it.

Tagged: 49ers, Demarcus Dobbs

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