The past three 49ers coaches have shared a belief when it comes to how rookies should be integrated into the team.
Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and, now, Chip Kelly do not allow any form of rookie hazing or harassment, 49ers fullback-turned-tight end Bruce Miller wrote in an essay for Chat Sports.
"All three of the coaches I’ve had here . . . all stressed that we should treat rookies as family,” Miller wrote. “Coach Harbaugh hammered into our minds that (in) order to be a successful team, every player has to perform at their absolute best. There was no rookie hazing and no one ever worried about coming to work because they might be harassed or abused.”
Miller, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, revealed that he was concerned about how he would be treated before reporting to his first training camp.
“My pre-camp nerves were a waste of energy,” Miller said. “From the minute we arrived at the 49ers facility, we were treated as brothers.
“We were successful as a unit precisely because the veterans took us under their wings. They showed us how to be professionals in every facet of the job. That’s exactly how I treat rookies now, because their support and guidance was the backbone of my success.”
Under Harbaugh, the 49ers appeared in the NFC Championship game in each of his first three seasons, including one trip to the Super Bowl. Harbaugh was not retained as coach after the 2014 season. Former 49ers guard Alex Boone said Harbaugh "wore out his welcome." While the locker room might have been split on Harbaugh, Miller made it clear where he stood.
“Jim Harbaugh is my favorite coach that I’ve ever had, and I thrived under his leadership,” said Miller, who played defensive end in college before transitioning to fullback with the 49ers. “He was an outstanding teacher with an unrivaled knowledge of the game. He brought energy that most coaches just don’t have, and really knew how to get the most out of his players.
“Coach Harbaugh lives and breathes football. He loved football so much that he simply couldn’t contain himself or hold it in. In meetings and at practice, he was exactly the way he appeared on the sidelines as games — full of emotion and intensity. He set the tone for the entire team, and the expectation that every player would be equally as focused.”