SANTA CLARA -- Will Tukuafu earned his spot on the 49ers' season-opening roster a year ago as a defensive lineman.But he could become a legitimate two-way player this season. Tukuafu, listed at 6-foot-4, 293 pounds, is seeing extensive work at fullback behind Bruce Miller.On Tuesday, Tukuafu motioned out of the backfield and caught a short touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith during a practice session that was open to the media.Tukuafu, who the 49ers originally signed in August 2010 after Carolina cut him as an undrafted free agent, declined comment . . . at least until September, he said."See if I make the team first," he said. "Got to graduate first."Coach Jim Harbaugh said he is eager to see Tukuafu at his new position in training camp when the pads come on and contact is allowed."Will is doing a great job, athletically, picking up the offense and the defense, both, and I think the best will come when he puts the pads on," Harbaugh said on Tuesday. "That's when it'll get really exciting and fun -- and 280-plus guy playing fullback is going to bode well for us."Tukuafu played in four games last season before sustaining a season-ending wrist injury while blocking on a kickoff return.He could become the next in a line of defensive players to see action for the 49ers on offense. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga was used as an extra blocker last season for 42 snaps on offense. Safety Colin Jones shifted to offense and played one snap as a wide receiver. In the playoffs, defensive linemen Justin Smith and Demarcus Dobbs saw limited time on offense.This offseason, Dobbs has seen more action at tight end. Defensive backs Cory Nelms and Ben Hannula have also been used at receiver.With each NFL team allowed to suit up just 46 players for regular-season games, the 49ers have sought creative ways to deal with the limitation.The team did not offer contracts a pair of veteran unrestricted free agents: Fullback Moran Norris and tight end Justin Peelle. So the 49ers are looking at the possibility finding reserves at those positions from the other side of the ball.
Former 49ers defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield is behind bars.
According to the Mercury News, Stubblefield was led away from court to jail in handcuffs Friday after a judge found there was probable cause to hold him over for trial on charges of rape stemming from May 2016.
CONFIRMED: Former #49ers star Dana Stubblefield jailed in San Jose. Facing rape charges from 2015 incident. Woman says he raped her at his Morgan Hill home, where she interviewed for a babysitting job. Stubblefield also arrested in 2000 for assaulting his then wife. pic.twitter.com/J30WYrJZRd— Raj Mathai (@rajmathai) January 20, 2018
Stubblefield is charged with raping an intellectually disabled woman on April 9, 2015 at his Morgan Hill home when she had gone to interview for a babysitting job.
According to the same report, Stubblefield had been free on $250,000 bail for more than a year. But the judge ordered him taken into custody Friday after prosecutors formally added the allegation that Stubblefield used a gun during the assault, which made it a no-bail case.
Stubblefield has pleaded not guilty and publicly denied the five felony charges and gun enhancement that prosecutors say could lead to at least 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted.
Stubblefield played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the first five with the 49ers. He later returned to the 49ers in 2001 and ’02, before finishing his career with the Raiders.
Stubblefield, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 1993, was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after recording 10.5 sacks. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year with a career-high 15 sacks in 1997. He signed a lucrative contract with Washington in 1998.
The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.
Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.
Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.
Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.
Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.
Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.
Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.
The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.
Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.