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Could 49ers be looking for NFL version of Shohei Ohtani?

Finding an NFL comparison to Los Angeles Dodgers two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is impossible. Impacting the game both ways the way Ohtani does isn’t something an NFL player would be able to do consistently given the physical rigors of the sport. The 49ers might be trying to find that player anyway.

In what could be an expansion of their “positionless” offense, the 49ers are hosting Utah running back/defensive back Sione Vaki on a top 30 visit according to the Draft Network’s Justin Melo.

Vaki played both directions for the Utes and posted 317 rushing yards, 223 receiving yards and five total touchdowns as a running back last season. He also contributed 92 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, one interception and six pass breakups as a safety. His defensive contributions came across 26 games in two seasons, while his offensive stats were all accumulated in the 2023 campaign.

The likelihood that Vaki can regularly play both ways in the NFL is very slim. Adding a player like him though could open two doors for San Francisco. There’s a chance it’s straightforward where they like Vaki at one position or the other and believe he can contribute for them at one of those spots. The other side of that coin though is one where they like Vaki for one spot, but they really like the idea of having two-way capability. Perhaps they like him as a running back who can add emergency depth at safety. They could also view him as a safety who can work into a couple of different offensive packages at running back.

Chances are it’s the former where they like him at one position or the other. Given Ohtani’s meteoric rise in baseball though it’s hard not to ponder what a regular two-way NFL player might look like. While Vaki might have the skill set to be effective on both sides of the ball though, it’s much more likely he winds up sticking at one no matter how lofty a team’s ambitions for him might be.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire