November 12 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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49ers linebacker Julian Peterson has been given specific assignments two weeks in a row that differed from his regular duty of zone coverage and pass rushing. A week ago Peterson was in charge of taking Charlie Garner out of the game with the Raiders and this past weekend Peterson drew a similar challenge against tight end Tony Gonzalez.
In virtually man assignments, Peterson was able to take both these players away from opposing offenses. Peterson did such a good job this past weekend, that Gonzalez was limited to just one reception for six yards, and that reception came with Ahmed Plummer doing the coverage duty. Peterson also knocked down a fourth down pass to Gonzalez on the Chiefs’ final drive that would have kept a potential game winning drive a live.
After the game Gonzalez complained that Peterson ‘cheated’ to win the battle. Grabbing him, hitting his neck, essentially he called Peterson a dirty player without calling him a dirty player. Excuses? We really will never know, but if he was playing so illegally, why was it Gonzalez that was penalized?
The 49ers drafted Peterson to be a play maker, but the plays they thought he’d be making were in sacking the quarterback, and making big stops in the backfield. The team is learning though, that the linebacker who as Jeff Ulbrich put it: “Runs like a cornerback, but he has the body of a defensive end” maybe better suited for just taking out a running back or tight end and eliminating their use to an offense.