49ers To Spread It Around?
June 11 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
One player the 49ers have been quite impressed with this off-season is Tai Streets. Although Streets pulled up with a leg injury in the team’s final mini-camp, he has looked much improved thus far. The 49ers are very encouraged by what they see in Streets, and look forward to utilizing him in the offense. Eric Johnson is another man who continues to impress the coaches. The former college receiver has the skills to allow the 49ers to bring back the tight end as a playmaker to their offense. The team will also try and use all-pro Garrison Hearst in different situations in order to make the 49ers offense more potent than it was last season.
It has been well documented that it takes two seasons to return from a severe injury. This being Tai Streets third after his injury, should make for a breakout season for the player. Streets is a speedy weapon that the 49ers began to use late last season, and that could blossom in 2002.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp was encouraged by Streets this off-season: “What I like about Tai is his versatility. We can line him up in different positions, at split end, on the strong side or the weakside. And this year, he’s not only stronger, but with repetition, he’s become much better at creating more space when he runs his routes.”
Eric Johnson has looked very good this off-season too. And now that the 49ers really know what they have in this seventh round pick, they will try and bring back some of the Brent Jones magic that made the team so prolific not too long ago. Expect Johnson to become a big factor in exploiting defenses this season.
The 49ers will likely also experiment with splitting running back Garrison Hearst out as a receiver. The team could then line up second year player Kevan Barlow in the backfield, and have its top players on the field all at once. It’s an offensive formation that certainly would give Jeff Garcia plenty of targets to spread the ball around too.