Barlow or Hearst, Does It Really Matter?
October 27 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Steve Mariucci hasnít declared the starting running back for this coming week, but in all likelihood it will be second year back Kevan Barlow, as Garrison Hearst takes some time recovering from a hamstring injury. Barlow is looking forward to the opportunity to start for his first time, but remains pessimistic that he will actually get the opportunity.
The 49ers would like to have Hearst, who is still a better receiver and pass blocker, and who is coming off of a great game, as there starter, or at the very least in relief of Barlow starting. And if Paul Smith is able to play, the 49ers may even sit Hearst, play it conservatively and allow him an extra week to rest.
The whole injury scenario begs the question: Does it really matter who starts between Hearst and Barlow. Realistically speaking, both are averaging over five yards a rush, following tremendous blocking from the offensive line and fullback Fred Beasley. Both backs have the speed to go outside or inside, and both are patient enough to make the big runs.
While Hearst and Barlow have been tremendously successful this season, alternating series, one really has to believe that they would do equally well on their own. This weekend, Barlow may have the chance to prove just how ready he is for the NFL. How he performs in pass blocking and in the receiving department however will be a bigger test than his ability to pound the ball on the ground.