The Ultimate Backfield- 03/23/2000
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The 49ers are hurting. It's no secret. However what many don't realize is how well off the 49ers actually are. Sure they are in a rebuilding phase, but they have a luxury most teams don't have after going 4-12 on the season. That luxury is one of the most dynamite backfields in the NFL. Running backs Garrison Hearst and Charlie Garner - full backs Fred Beasely and Terry Jackson; in short unstoppable.

Garrison Hearst is recovering from a serious foot injury that kept him out of football last season. Currently he is running forward and laterally (the most important step in recovering). Hearst is expected to participate in football practices during mini-camps and be able to scrimmage by training camp. Providing that Hearst can come back at even 50% of what he once was, the 49ers are very, very well off. The late Bobb McKittrick once said Hearst was the best back he has ever seen on the 9ers, including Roger Craig. Hearst has the ability to pound it out, or explode around the corner; he is the true definition of an all-purpose back.

Charlie Garner is simply instant offense. In his first year for the 49ers he rushed for over 1000 yards even though he was not the starter for the first quarter of the season. Garner quickly up seeded former 49ers running back Lawrence Phillips, and proved he not only had a great game, but also true football instincts repeatedly making "something out of nothing". Garner is an extremely quick back and should work with Hearst very nicely. The two are expected to share the duties, with Garner the scheduled starter until Hearst is ready to resume his role.

At full back Fred Beasely turned out to be more than the organization could ever have hoped for. His ability to pick up defenders in the blitz while throwing crucial blocks for the running back last season was enough to make the city of San Francisco forget about former full back Marc Edwards. Beasely also has the ability to pound it out in short yardage situations and amazingly has shown good hands, making some key receptions.

Backup Terry Jackson should see an increase in his role this year, and that will only add to the explosiveness of the backfield. In his first year with the 9ers proved he could handle any defender that came his way, and also showed good knowledge of the game. In the few opportunities he was given with the ball in his hands Jackson showed he could explode through the backfield to pick up crucial yards (though he did have one key fumble late in the season), and also showed speed and good hands on a few receptions.

What all this means to the organization is quite simple. They have a luxury that most teams don't. With a new quarterback almost surely coming into the mix this year or next - be it Jeff Garcia or otherwise, the QB will have the opportunity to grow into an offense and learn the defensive packages that other teams throw at him simply due to having such a strong backfield. This will undoubtedly help the quarterback grow into the offense and it will also help the 49ers rack up the wins column.

*** Recent reports suggest the prognosis on Hearst's injury were not as good as originally anticipated, and the team is planning to play with Garner and Jervey. ***
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