Dobbs, Tukuafu take pride in being 'mutts'


Dobbs, Tukuafu take pride in being 'mutts'

SANTA CLARA -- Demarcus Dobbs and Will Tukuafu are roommates who share a unique role among NFL players.Both players were converted to two-way performers in the offseason, and both served significant dual roles during the exhibition season.Dobbs and Tukuafu came to the 49ers as defensive linemen. Now Dobbs wears No. 83 (so he does not have to report before every offensive snap) and also plays tight end. Tukuafu doubles as an imposing 292-pound fullback.I asked Dobbs how he answers when people ask him what position he plays."I tell them I'm a mutt," Dobbs said. "I'm just a mutt. I do all types of different things -- all types of breeds. I just tell them I'm defensive lineman but I do pretty much everything."I do take pride in being a mutt. There aren't many mutts around this league. Mutts are always a better dog, anyway."Coach Jim Harbaugh has an affinity for two-way players. He made Owen Marecic major college football's only two-way player at Stanford. Last season, the 49ers used nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga for 42 snaps on offense at fullback. Harbaugh also employed Justin Smith during the playoffs as an extra blocker.Tukuafu and Dobbs were both converted into two-way players in the offseason. Dobbs played both ways in all three exhibition games in which he appeared. Tukuafu did not see two-way action in training camp until after the first three weeks of camp. He concluded the exhibition season in impressive fashion."He was crushing people," Justin Smith said. "You didn't even have to see it. You could hear it. I know I wouldn't want to take on a 290-pound fullback. I'm sure Green Bay's hoping he's just a gimmick and (we) won't use him that much. He put some pretty impressive stuff on tape."In the past two exhibition games, Tukuafu played 31 snaps on offense and 42 snaps on offense, respectively. He had two devastating blocks against the Chargers, including one that cleared the way for Anthony Dixon's touchdown run in the first quarter."He was a mutt before everybody else knew he was a mutt," Dobbs said of Tukuafu. "We went into the same thing at the same time. He went to fullback, and I went to tight end. I guess I got the bulk of the press before he did."He had an incredible game against San Diego. We're roommates when we go on the road. Will and I are close. To see him succeed and do what he did in the game made me happy. I got goosebumps watching him play the game."Harbaugh suggested Dobbs could be asked to expand his role even further. With Parys Haralson out for the year with a left arm injury, Harbaugh said it's a possibility Dobbs (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) could also see time at outside linebacker.That would not appear to be necessary in the 49ers' first two regular-season games, as the 49ers are likely to spend most of the time with extra defensive backs on the field to defend the high-powered passing attacks of Green Bay and Detroit.When the 49ers go with extra defensive backs, starting outside linebackers Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks shift to defensive linemen to rush the passer. Dobbs was used in exhibition games as a backup outside pass-rusher in nickel situations.

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles


49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4