Barlow Ready To Prove Shanahan Right
August 19 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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It didn’t take long for Denver Head Coach, and former 49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike Shanahan, to call the 49ers after they drafted Kevan Barlow. Shanahan, who has an eye for finding talented running backs told Bill Walsh that with the 80th overall pick in the draft, he had selected "the best back in the draft.” It was a bold statement for a player that was ranked 32nd at his position by NFL scouts.
When the 49ers meet the Broncos tonight, Barlow will have his first, first hand, chance to show Shanahan that his prognosis was correct first. Barlow will receive a fair bit of play time working with both the first and second team squads; he could be in the game for almost the entire first half.
The 49ers have lots of plans for their running backs this season. The team expects to play Hearst and Barlow in the same backfield quite often, in the same way that they did for Terrell Owen’s 70+ yard touchdown romp last game. The team simply feels it has too much talent hear not to get both these players on the field, even with having some great fullbacks on their squad. At times the 49ers may even split Hearst out as a receiver, with Barlow and Beasley in the backfield. It should make for an electrifying run game.
Tom Rathman had told his running backs that he wants them both to reach 1000 yards rushing this season. That’s no easy task considering the 49ers tendency to be pass happy in the West Coast Offense. Still Barlow has taken the goal to heart. He’s healthier, stronger and has better endurance after training with receiver Terrell Owens this off-season, and he is ready to make a difference.