SANTA CLARA -- Will Tukuafu earned his spot on the 49ers' season-opening roster a year ago as a defensive lineman.But he could become a legitimate two-way player this season. Tukuafu, listed at 6-foot-4, 293 pounds, is seeing extensive work at fullback behind Bruce Miller.On Tuesday, Tukuafu motioned out of the backfield and caught a short touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith during a practice session that was open to the media.Tukuafu, who the 49ers originally signed in August 2010 after Carolina cut him as an undrafted free agent, declined comment . . . at least until September, he said."See if I make the team first," he said. "Got to graduate first."Coach Jim Harbaugh said he is eager to see Tukuafu at his new position in training camp when the pads come on and contact is allowed."Will is doing a great job, athletically, picking up the offense and the defense, both, and I think the best will come when he puts the pads on," Harbaugh said on Tuesday. "That's when it'll get really exciting and fun -- and 280-plus guy playing fullback is going to bode well for us."Tukuafu played in four games last season before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury while blocking on a kickoff return.He could become the next in a line of defensive players to see action for the 49ers on offense. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga was used as an extra blocker last season for 42 snaps on offense. Safety Colin Jones shifted to offense and played one snap as a wide receiver. In the playoffs, defensive linemen Justin Smith and Demarcus Dobbs saw limited time on offense.This offseason, Dobbs has seen more action at tight end. Defensive backs Cory Nelms and Ben Hannula have also been used at receiver.With each NFL team allowed to suit up just 46 players for regular-season games, the 49ers have sought creative ways to deal with the limitation.The team did not offer contracts a pair of veteran unrestricted free agents: Fullback Moran Norris and tight end Justin Peelle. So the 49ers are looking at the possibility finding reserves at those positions from the other side of the ball.
The Atlanta Falcons had the highest scoring offense during the 2016 regular season, averaging 33.8 points per game, and they racked up 6,653 total yards.
In two playoff games, they've scored a combined 80 points.
The architect of that high-powered offense is Kyle Shanahan, who is the presumptive head coach of the 49ers.
So what makes Shanahan's scheme so effective?
Falcons starting center and former Cal Bears star Alex Mack answered that on ESPN's Mike and Mike show on Tuesday.
"He does a really good job of just having a very balanced offense. We want to run outside schemes. we want to run outside zone, we want to be really effective at doing that. And when a team stops you from doing that, when they put people over there, or they slant out or whatever they do to stop that, he has the backup plan," Mack said.
"He knows exactly when they bring that safety down to make it really tough to run outside zone, well that's going to open up some throws later down the field. And then when they put someone out there on the throws, well, there's a bigger cutback lane, so he calls a different run for that. So our offense is really built around being balanced and having an answer for what the defense wants to do to stop us," Mack continued.
Mack, Shanahan and the Falcons are set to put their No. 1 scoring offense to the test against the Patriots' No. 1 scoring defense in Super Bowl 51 in Houston on Feb. 5, 2017.
The 49ers on Tuesday informed season ticket holders that ticket prices will not increase for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
"We are announcing that 49ers season ticket pricing will be frozen through the 2018 season," the team wrote in an email to its season ticket holder. "Invoices for your 2017 season tickets will be made available to view and pay online in the coming weeks, including the option to enroll in a multi-month payment plan."
"Thank you for your valued and continued support as a 49ers Season Ticket Member. We look forward to serving you this season!"
The 49ers will enter the 2017 season with a new general manager and head coach after firing both Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly following their 2-14 2016 season.