Frank Gore said on Tuesday that the 49ers approached him to get his approval before they signed running back Brian Westbrook.
“I knew that we needed another back, and he was the best one out there. I think he can help this team and help me to be a better player. I know he can help this team get better and help us go to another level, so I’m fine with it,” said Gore.
When news broke that Westbrook was signed I immediately thought there is no way Gore will have a problem with the signing. Gore has been the heart of the 49ers offense and the team’s biggest start on offense since 2006. We all know Gore is injury prone but that more has to do with the lack of a backup running back that can be successful replacing Gore. We have seen Michael Robinson, Maurice Hicks, DeShaun Foster and Glen Coffee backup Gore with little results to be excited about. Gore is a workhorse and would carry the football on every play if you asked him. However running backs have a short shelf life and at 27 years old Gore needs to rest as much as he can during games to be able to get through a full season without missing games due to injuries.
Now that we have Westbrook, albeit an older and broken down version, we have an adequate backup to spell Gore and allow the offense to continue running the football successfully. In the emergency situation that Coffee left the 49ers in Westbrook was the best the 49ers could do and I say that is the most positive way possible. Westbrook will not be the Westbrook that made him a top fantasy draft pick but we don’t need him to be. Remember Westbrook played in only eight games last season because of two concussions. Concussions are serious injuries but Westbrook still has his legs and abilities to be a receiving threat out of the backfield and cause mismatches with defensive backs and linebackers. It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye develops his plan on how to use Westbrook not only as a backup but as an integral part of the offense. I can’t wait for the first play in the regular season where Gore and Westbrook are in the same backup field.