Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Jaguars matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Wembley Stadium in London.
49ers FB Bruce Miller vs. Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny
Tale of the tape
Miller (49): 6 foot 2, 248 pounds, third season, Central Florida
Posluszny (51): 6 foot 2, 242 pounds, seventh season, Penn State
Fullback Bruce Miller was coming off his worst game.
He failed to hold onto a potential touchdown pass and surrendered a safety with a holding penalty in the end zone in the same game. It wasn’t just any game, either.
Those were two key plays in the 49ers’ 29-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. And just two days later the 49ers signed free-agent fullback Owen Marecic to the team’s 53-man roster.
But Miller has been outstanding ever since, prompting the 49ers to release Marecic after just two weeks on the team.
Miller has flourished as a lead blocker for running back Frank Gore, who has gained 487 yards (with a 5.0 average) and four touchdowns in the past five games after a slow start. And he has also provided a contribution with the ball in his hands. He picked up crucial fourth down with a run play against the Arizona Cardinals, and he ranks third on the team behind Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis with 11 catches for 102 yards.
Miller ranks No. 3 in the NFL among fullbacks, according to Pro Football Focus’ grading system.
“Our offense is a fullback-driven offense,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said on Friday. “That player is on the field a lot for us.”
And for most of Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miller’s job will be to put a body on middle linebacker Paul Posluszny – a tackling machine on a winless team.
Posluszny is well on his way to a sixth consecutive 100-tackle season, as he averages nearly 10 stops per game for a defense that has experienced more than their fair share of problems stopping opposing running games. In fact, the Jaguars are the only team in the NFL this season that has surrendered 1,000 yards in rushing.
“If you’re behind in a game, you’re probably going to be throwing it a lot,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “And if you’re up in a game, you’re probably going to be running it a lot. And I think a lot of those rushing yards are attributed to the fact that people are running the ball in the fourth quarter a lot.”
And the 49ers expect to be running the ball a lot on a potentially soggy field at Wembley Stadium behind a powerful offensive line and Miller leading the way for Gore.