Bright Spot- 01/20/2000
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Associating any positive word with the 49ers this season has been extremely difficult, but by far in a way there was one huge bright spot. The 49ers backfield this year did more than anyone person could ever have imagined. Upon Garrison Hearst's announcement that he wouldn't be able to play this season, the team quickly pursued Charlie "Instant Offense" Garner and Lawrence "Flops" Phillips. Couple this with an unproductive Tommy Vardell and nothing more than expectations from second year back Fred Beasely.

This added up to a whole lot of worrying by the 49ers and the fans, and as the season began, and the 49ers attempted to feature Lawrence Phillips; the criticisms seemed to be right. Garner showed flashes of brilliance, and at last a light bulb went off with the 49ers coaches, and so did Phillips mouth. Garner was being productive and Phillips wasn't the switch was obvious. It didn't stop there, the 49ers were unable to pick up the blitz and thus Tommy Vardell also became friends with Mr. Bench.

The move proved to be beneficial from the first moment the moment Beasely and Garner were combined in the backfield. Beasely proved to be a strong blocker and was able to pick up nice chunks of yards when given the opportunity. Beasely was also an asset catching the ball out of the backfield. The 49ers didn't use him enough in this manner but when they did he was able to make both the long and short receptions.

Garner absolutely exploded into the lineup rushing for over 1000 yards in less than a full season. He gave the 49ers their 3rd consecutive year with 1000-yard rusher and proved to be durable all season long. He carried the team, he is smart and he is fast. Essentially he gave the 49ers fans something to cheer about and a little hope for something better. Garner seemed to be playing at the speed the 49ers teams used to play at.

Upon Hearst's return next season the 49ers will have one of the most prominent backfields in the NFL. Hearst will provide the hard rushing; Garner a change of pace and screens, and Beasely the short yardage man. The 49ers have essentially been falling back on the run ever since Young went down 3 years ago. The 49ers went conservative. Last season even though the 49ers were explosive, Hearst was a huge part of the plan, gaining more yards than any 49er before him, and this season the 49ers would have been better off as a running team. Next season the 49ers will have either a young Garcia in the lineup or an aging Young in the line-up; either way a strong running game will take pressure off the pass and open things up. The 49ers need to realize this and let the running game help carry the team until Garcia or whoever it may be takes over the reigns and is efficient in the passing game.
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