Running For Five
October 10 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers have clearly put an emphasis on running the ball this season. Their success this season lies squarely on their ability to run the ball - that is unless the team can get a formidable threat opposite Terrell Owens, or Jeff Garcia to be patient enough to get the ball to receivers down field, instead of underneath the coverage. This commitment to run has already paid off for Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow.
Both running backs are actually averaging over five yards per carry. Typically when running backs average four or slightly more yards per carry, they are considered to be having a very good season. That both the 49ers running backs are currently over five yards per carry, certainly says a lot about the teams ability to run block. Not only is the offensive line and fullback opening key holes for the backs, but the tight end and receivers are making blocks down field to allow the running backs to make big gains. This of course has resulted in a great start to the season for these two backs.
This off-season running backs coach Tom Rathman stated that his goal for the running backs this season was for each to be over 1000 yards. At the time it seemed highly unlikely, and while it still seems a little far fetched, it does seem possible if the backs can continue on this pace.
Kevan Barlow is actually out gaining Garrison Hearst per carry, itís a 5.8 to 5.1 score in favour of the second year back, but then again, he has fewer repetitions and Hearst is often left to establish the run at the beginning of the game. This tandem is clearly one of the best one-two punches in the NFL, if they can keep their performance at this level, the 49ers will likely ride their performances to many a victory.