Five 49ers to watch: 3. Demarcus Dobbs

August 10, 2012, 6:21 pm
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(This is Part 3 in a series that will spotlight five 49ers players to watch Friday night in the team's exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings, 6 p.m., at Candlestick Park.)Five 49ers to watch: 5. Alex Boone
Five 49ers to watch: 4. Perrish Cox
Demarcus Dobbs picked up a couple of sacks during the exhibition season a year ago and earned a coveted roster spot as an undrafted defensive lineman.But when Dobbs reported to work this offseason, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had a new request. He told Dobbs the team would give him an audition at tight end, too.And, just like that, Dobbs' workload was doubled. One day, Dobbs lines up along the defensive line. The next day, he takes all of his practice snaps at tight end.And that's been Dobbs' schedule since the opening of training camp two weeks ago.This is not just a gimmick, either. From Aug. 27 to Aug. 31, every team in the NFL must trim their rosters from a maximum of 90 players to 53. Then, once the season begins, each team is allowed to suit up only 47 players for games.Two-way duty appears to be Dobbs' ticket to finding a uniform in his locker. Dobbs could be a reserve defensive lineman. He could be the team's No. 3 tight end. And he could contribute on special teams.With a better stable of wide receivers, the 49ers might not need as much from their No. 3 tight end behind Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. Dobbs could be utilized sparingly as an extra blocker. So, the 49ers figure, if Dobbs can fill several different roles, he becomes a lot more valuable to the team.Dobbs (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) has not played tight end in a game since his senior season at Calvary Baptist High in Savannah, Ga. He caught a school-record 18 touchdown passes during his prep career but was recruited to Georgia as a defensive lineman.Dobbs has shown progress at tight end on the 49ers' practice field. He caught a short touchdown pass from Alex Smith during practice Wednesday.How serious are the 49ers about using Dobbs two ways? His uniform was recently changed from No. 96 to 40. That way, he does not have to report as an eligible receiver before every snap he takes on offense.