Rumph Benefits From Owens
July 31 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers have always had a real advantage when grooming defensive backs to play in the NFL. Since Jerry Rice became well, Jerry Rice, the 49ers have had either the best or one of the best receivers in the NFL on their roster. Several players, including the 49ers current starting defensive backs, Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster, attribute much of their success to facing the best during practice.
Rookie corner, Mike Rumph has a similar advantage. Although Rice is long gone (tear), Terrell Owenís emergence as one of the games best, has given Rumph and continues to give Plummer and Webster that same advantage. Of course it hurts the self esteem to be dominated by a guy like Owens, but when you do break up a pass, or make a good play on the ball, you know that youíve earned it.
As a rookie, Rumph will need time to grow into the NFL - thatís a given. But in facing Owens day-in, day-out, Rumph will be able to speed up his learning curve. Itís just one of the advantages of facing the best every day in practice. When Rumph finally does make the jump, he will see tough competition, as there are very few receivers in the NFL that wonít challenge him. None however, are likely to put up as much a fight as Owens does in practice.
In the same regard, having a Pro Bowl quarterback, like Jeff Garcia, or in the past, Steve Young and Joe Montana, forced defensive backs to work harder in practice in the same way. Facing the best often brings out the best in an athlete, and again the learning curve accelerates.
Mike Rumph will take time to adjust to the NFL. He is being challenged on a daily basis and that in turn will help him make the adjustment - just donít expect it to happen over night.