By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
The signature blond ponytail is missing and that doesn't seem to bother Stanford grad Owen Marecic, who signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday.
The man Jim Harbaugh once called "the perfect football player" once again will be playing for his old coach.
This time, though, his roles will be defined clearer. He'll be a backup fullback and participate in special teams.
Marecic worked out for the 49ers soon after he was released by the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 27. He's spent the past couple of weeks working out in his hometown of Portland, Ore.
"It's been a crazy day," Marecic said after his first full day with the 49ers. "I haven't quite settled down and I haven't gotten into all the details of the offense. It feels good to have this opportunity."
Harbaugh was hoping to get the chance to draft Marecic in 2011, the year after he finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
Andrew Luck, who comes to town with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday for a game against the 49ers, finished second. Current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was seventh.
Marecic does have something over Kaepernick though. Marecic received more first-place votes (3-0) than the Nevada grad.
The Cleveland Browns drafted Marecic in the fourth round (the 124th player overall) that year. He played in 24 games with the Browns, he caught five passes for 32 yards and rushed four times for eight yards. he also returned four kickoffs.
"I was pretty busy in Cleveland," Marecic said. "They gave me a great opportunity."
Marecic won't be rushed into the starting lineup. Rather, he'll become one of the go-to special teams players.
Current starting fullback Bruce Miller looks at the addition as another competitive challenge.
"Competition is always great," said Miller. "You're always going to compete at that spot. I've watched him on film. He's a good football player. I'm just going to worry about me."
Marecic was the inaugural winner of the Paul Horning Award in 2010, presented to college football's most versatile player.
"It feels good to have the opportunity," Marecic said. "I look forward to finding a way to contribute."
Blocking for Frank Gore may be where Marecic makes his biggest contributions. When he blocks, he doesn't consider it successful unless he flattens his defender.
"Frank Gore is a great running back," Marecic said. "Bruce is a great fullback, too. Those guys are very talented football players and I have to work hard to improve my game."
Marecic received the opportunity when the 49ers placed nose tackle Ian Williams on the injured reserve with a broken left ankle. Williams played at Notre Dame and was on the field when Marecic scored two touchdowns within 13 seconds, one as a fullback and the other as a linebacker.