SANTA CLARA -- Demarcus Dobbs and Will Tukuafu are roommates who share a unique role among NFL players.Both players were converted to two-way performers in the offseason, and both served significant dual roles during the exhibition season.Dobbs and Tukuafu came to the 49ers as defensive linemen. Now Dobbs wears No. 83 (so he does not have to report before every offensive snap) and also plays tight end. Tukuafu doubles as an imposing 292-pound fullback.I asked Dobbs how he answers when people ask him what position he plays."I tell them I'm a mutt," Dobbs said. "I'm just a mutt. I do all types of different things -- all types of breeds. I just tell them I'm defensive lineman but I do pretty much everything."I do take pride in being a mutt. There aren't many mutts around this league. Mutts are always a better dog, anyway."Coach Jim Harbaugh has an affinity for two-way players. He made Owen Marecic major college football's only two-way player at Stanford. Last season, the 49ers used nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga for 42 snaps on offense at fullback. Harbaugh also employed Justin Smith during the playoffs as an extra blocker.Tukuafu and Dobbs were both converted into two-way players in the offseason. Dobbs played both ways in all three exhibition games in which he appeared. Tukuafu did not see two-way action in training camp until after the first three weeks of camp. He concluded the exhibition season in impressive fashion."He was crushing people," Justin Smith said. "You didn't even have to see it. You could hear it. I know I wouldn't want to take on a 290-pound fullback. I'm sure Green Bay's hoping he's just a gimmick and (we) won't use him that much. He put some pretty impressive stuff on tape."In the past two exhibition games, Tukuafu played 31 snaps on offense and 42 snaps on offense, respectively. He had two devastating blocks against the Chargers, including one that cleared the way for Anthony Dixon's touchdown run in the first quarter."He was a mutt before everybody else knew he was a mutt," Dobbs said of Tukuafu. "We went into the same thing at the same time. He went to fullback, and I went to tight end. I guess I got the bulk of the press before he did."He had an incredible game against San Diego. We're roommates when we go on the road. Will and I are close. To see him succeed and do what he did in the game made me happy. I got goosebumps watching him play the game."Harbaugh suggested Dobbs could be asked to expand his role even further. With Parys Haralson out for the year with a left arm injury, Harbaugh said it's a possibility Dobbs (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) could also see time at outside linebacker.That would not appear to be necessary in the 49ers' first two regular-season games, as the 49ers are likely to spend most of the time with extra defensive backs on the field to defend the high-powered passing attacks of Green Bay and Detroit.When the 49ers go with extra defensive backs, starting outside linebackers Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks shift to defensive linemen to rush the passer. Dobbs was used in exhibition games as a backup outside pass-rusher in nickel situations.
SANTA CLARA – General manager John Lynch received the text message Wednesday from Dr. Tim McAdams that might have come as a surprise to many of the teams that passed on linebacker Reuben Foster during the draft.
The 49ers’ team physician declared Foster’s surgically repaired right shoulder is ready to play football. The 49ers are scheduled for their first practice of training camp on Friday, and Foster will be a full participant.
“We feel great about our doctors, our medical program here,” Lynch said on Thursday, as the 49ers reported to training camp. “Our trainer, Jeff Ferguson, is as good as there is in the league. Dr. McAdams, world-renowned. He has the Stanford name behind him.
“We challenged him numerous times. From his observation, the shoulder was good.”
Foster’s tumble to the back end of the first round was widely blamed on his shoulder condition. The 49ers traded with the Seattle Seahawks to select Foster with the No. 31 overall pick. Almost immediately, the 49ers were scrutinized for making the selection.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported some teams did not even consider drafting Foster. One “well-placed source with knowledge of the injury” told Schefter that Foster’s surgery “didn’t take.”
The 49ers’ willingness to clear Foster for the first day of camp is a reality that appears to be in stark contrast to the opinions around the league that Foster’s shoulder would require additional surgery. The 49ers expect Foster to be ready Sunday for the first padded, contact practice of training camp.
“We pride ourselves in doing all of our due diligence, not afterward, but before we make the decisions,” Lynch said. “We’d done exhaustive research on Reuben Foster in a lot of different areas. Medically was one area.”
Coach Kyle Shanahan said he the nature of Foster’s injury convinced him that even the worst-case scenario, in the big picture, was not so bad. Foster sustained a torn rotator cuff in Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington and played the championship game against Clemson with the injury.
“I was proud of our doctors for putting themselves out there and giving their honest opinion about what they felt,” Shanahan said. “They feel it is healed, and it’s going to be good. I respect them for doing that. They went against the norm on that, and that isn’t always easy.
“(I’m) pretty confident when it is a shoulder injury, if it doesn’t heal the right way or it’s done wrong, you have to re-do a surgery, yes, it’s time, but it’s not going to affect the guy we saw on tape.”
On April 27, the 49ers selected Solomon Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
As of Thursday afternoon, he remains unsigned.
49ers general manager John Lynch addressed the media on Thursday and was asked about the defensive lineman's status.
John Lynch: "We’re still working on that. Been lot of productive conversations in last couple of days. We’re hopeful we can get this done."— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) July 27, 2017
John Lynch on Solomon Thomas’ absence: "I’m concerned right now. I wish this were done. I thnk it should be done."— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) July 27, 2017
Thomas missed most of the 49ers' offseason program because NFL rules stipulate that rookies who have not completed their undergraduate degrees are ineligible to join on a full-time basis until after their schools' final classes of the spring semester.
Stanford's late schedule put Thomas a little behind schedule.
“We have our iPads, so I’ll be able to watch film from that,” Thomas said in mid-May. “I talk to Josh (Garnett) quite a bit, and he’ll give me advice on how to go through this process – how to stay in touch, just keep learning along the way and keep progressing along the way.”