Stone Wall In Front Of Garcia
April 13 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
That's right everyone, it is official. Rather than starting an offensive line to keep Jeff Garcia safe, and to open holes for Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow, the 49ers have opted to place a big Stone wall one yard behind the line of scrimmage. The team claims Garcia will have no problem throwing over the wall because of his notorious jump pass, but they say, he may have some trouble spotting his receivers.
In all seriousness though, the 49ers made another huge, (and I mean HUGE in the most literal way), free agent signing on Friday. The team had been expressing interest in guard Ron Stone for the entire off-season, but only recently did contract talks become feasible, as the guard regarded as the best available, reduce his contract figure.
The former Pro Bowl guard will take over for Ray Brown along the offensive line. The line will now consist of: Derrick Deese at left tackle, Stone, Newberry at center, Dave Fiore at right guard and Scott Gragg at right tackle. It is unclear at this point if the team has continued negotiations with offensive lineman Blake Brockermeyer, but in all likelihood, the Stone signing has indeed ended those talks. Stone is 30 years old, nearly 10 years Ray Brown's junior, is 6'5" and ways a mammoth 320 lbs. Stone will move to the left side of the line after playing the right position with the Giants - he has however played every position on the line except center, and is thus a perfect fit on the 49ers versatile offensive line.
The move has the 49ers very happy. "There is a lot of excitement in our organization about the addition of Ron Stone," Niners president Terry Donahue said. "He will be a powerful addition to our offensive line and we are pleased that he decided to be a 49er." Scott Gragg is likely one of those excited about Stone. Gragg played next to Stone when he was with the Giants.
Stone too, seems happy to be a 49er. After signing a four year, $9 million offer, that included a $2.35 million signing bonus, Stone had this to say: "The way the (free agent) market is right now, it's not a good situation, I was happy that the 49ers were interested, though. They made a good offer, and I was pleased they did the best they can.''
In securing Stone for next season the 49ers have greatly reduced the pressure of this years draft. All prospects drafted this season, even those in the first round will be to add depth and compete for spots on the roster rather than to step in and start immediately like in the past few years. It's a welcome change for the club that is now tip-toeing its way back to the top of the NFL through continuous planning for the present and the future.