SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Fullback Bruce Miller signed a three-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, ensuring they can keep a key member of the team's running game through the 2017 season.
The do-everything Miller was lost for the season Dec. 15 with a left shoulder blade injury sustained during a win at Tampa Bay - and San Francisco greatly missed his contributions the rest of the way before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion and rival Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game.
Miller had a tough time using the arm after the game. He took a hard hit from Buccaneers safety Keith Tandy after a 10-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter.
The 26-year-old Miller has been a key blocker for 1,000-yard rusher Frank Gore, and Miller had 25 catches for 243 yards along with seven carries for 13 yards last season. He worked to convert from college defensive end to NFL fullback. Gore has long credited Miller with allowing him to break big gains.
''Bruce is a hard-working, dedicated young player that has done an outstanding job for us, both on and off the field,'' 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. ''He is one of those players that contributes a lot more to the team and to the community than he gets credit for, yet wouldn't have it any other way. We are pleased that Bruce has chosen to extend his stay with the 49ers.''
During the 2011 season as a rookie, Miller caught the 49ers' lone touchdown in a 19-11 win at Washington and emerged as a feel-good story in coach Jim Harbaugh's first season.
Harbaugh has appreciated Miller from Day 1.
Especially considering Miller was open to the idea of converting from defensive end to fullback. That switch earned him a regular job with the 49ers.
He was a dominant defensive end for Central Florida, earning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors while becoming the school's all-time sacks leader with 36.
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