Dobbs' double-dipping helps his roster chances

July 28, 2012, 8:24 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs made the 49ers' roster last summer as an undrafted free agent.With one year of NFL experience, Dobbs returns this summer with the added responsibility of playing tight end.It was about the last thing Dobbs expected when he showed up to work at the 49ers' offseason program. Coach Jim Harbaugh told Dobbs he would be splitting time on offense and defense during the spring and summer.
"I hadn't played tight end since high school, but I was excited that the coaches even thought of me to play that position," Dobbs said Saturday. "It shows that they're really looking at me and they believe in a lot of things I can do."Dobbs caught a school-record 18 touchdown passes in high school at Calvary Baptist in Savannah, Ga. He was recruited to Georgia as a defensive end.Dobbs (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) now finds himself required to study twice as hard as many of his 49ers teammates."It is tough," Dobbs said. "You have two playbooks you have to learn. You flip-flop, one day on defense, one day on offense. So you constantly have to be in your books. But that's what we're here for. You have all this time to study. It's a learning process, but I feel like I'm on the right track."Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio acknowledges that it's a balancing act for Dobbs, who lined up Friday with the offense. Dobbs, wearing No. 96, could not hang onto one high ball from quarterback Josh Johnson. Dobbs spent extra time catching passes after practice.On Saturday, Dobbs was scheduled to switch uniforms and play defensive end."Every day he spends over there is one day less he's spending with us and he's still a young player," Fangio said. "But the big picture says if he's our fourth, fifth or sixth defensive lineman and he can fulfill a role on offense that allows him to improve his chances to make the team. Or if he makes the team, allows him a better opportunity to get dressed as one of the 45 on game days."It makes him more versatile. Does it affect his development in one position? Yes. It does. There's no way around that. In his case, it's better for the team and better for him and his chances to make the team."NFL teams are allowed a roster maximum of 90 players for training camp. The regular-season roster is 53. Only 46 players suit up per team on regular-season game days.If Dobbs plays well on offense, it might allow the 49ers to keep just two full-time tight ends -- Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker -- on the final roster.