SANTA CLARA – It did not show up on the transaction wire, but the 49ers expanded their roster during training camp to 93 participants on Monday.
The newcomers are not your typical camp fodder. And they’ll remain with the 49ers through the entire season, serving roles as, literally, tackling dummies.
The 49ers received a shipment of three motorized, self-righting, mobile tackling dummies from Mobile Virtual Player – the brainchild of Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, who served three seasons at Stanford from 2002 to ’04.
“We like it,” Kelly said on Wednesday. “I know Buddy Teevens from Dartmouth very well. They’re the ones who designed them, came up with the original idea. We tried to build one when I was at Oregon. It broke after the first tackle. It went really fast, but . . .”
The 49ers used the devices during practice on Tuesday during a drill for screen passes, during which the offensive linemen got out in front and made cut-blocks on the moving targets.
“Obviously, you’re not going to cut-block a player in practice, but you can cut-block a bag,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a huge step for everybody. You want to get accomplished a lot of things in training sessions, but you also want to do it in a safe environment. A lot of times, it’s the guy doing the tackling, it’s the guy getting tackled. So the fact the fact that the guy getting tackled is an inanimate object lends itself to something we’ll be doing more of.”
Kelly said the possibilities are endless for the usage of the dummies. All defensive players can use the MVP dummies to practice wrapping and tackling.
“The longer our coaches put their heads together, there are a lot of different things you can use them for,” Kelly said. “We do a lot of work with sleds and dummies, but now you have a dummy that can move. I don’t think there’s a limitation from where we are from that standpoint.”
Tune in Wednesday when I'll be appearing on SportsTalk Live with Jim Kozimor at 5 & 11 p.m. talking 49ers, and again at 6 & 10:30 p.m. on SportsNet Central -- all on CSN Bay Area.