SANTA CLARA – Defensive players don’t know how fun it is to be in a huddle with 49ers new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, nose tackle Earl Mitchell got an inkling during the Christmas Eve win over Jacksonville.
After regular fullback Kyle Juszczyk came out for a breather once the 49ers reached the Jacksonville 1 on the opening drive, Mitchell was summoned as a lead blocker. It was Mitchell’s first offensive snap of the season after getting a few practice plays at fullback throughout the season.
However, Mitchell didn’t know the play Garoppolo called because Garoppolo wanted to sneak into the end zone.
“He really called his own number on that one,” Mitchell said. The play worked, Garoppolo spilled over the goal line, however, the call put Mitchell in an awkward situation.
“It caught me off guard,” said Mitchell who didn’t know how much he should have pushed Garoppolo into the end zone. “I didn’t want to put a lot of weight on him; you know what I’m saying?”
Yes Earl we do. Mitchell at 310 pounds didn’t want to slam into Garoppolo, who’s known in the locker room as “Franchise.” Mitchell did want to see headlines reading, “Nose tackle hurts Garoppolo on goal line play.”
“I am going to hit whoever hits him,” Mitchell said. No where in the job description does it say that Mitchell hits Garopollolo in order to get him into the end zone. Mitchell did provide Garoppolo a nudge for the 1-yard scoring play.
He does delights in playing fullback, however. He did it for his first two seasons at Arizona before switching to defense. While in Miami under interim coach Dan Campbell, Mitchell played fullback extensively for one game.
“He just let me stay out there,” Mitchell said. “I got a couple lead blocks for Lamar Miller. It was fun.”
Might Mitchell get a few more opportunities at fullback in Sunday’s season finale in L.A.?
“Every time we are near the goal line, I stay close (to the coaches on the sideline in case they call for him),” Mitchell said. “You never know, that’s for the future to see.”