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Running Away From Home
March 14th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The news came Wednesday afternoon, the 49ers had come to terms with their fourth of five key free agents to re-sign this off-season. Garrison Hearst who received serious consideration from the Raiders and his home town Falcons opted to return to the 49ers under a 6 year contract at aproximately $17 million contract with a $3 million signing bonus. Hearst returns to the team after a Pro Bowl, Comeback Player of the Year, 1200+ yard season.

The history between the 49ers and Hearst is quite substantial, Hearst signed on with the 49ers and helped them reach the playoffs twice, however on his second trip he was knocked out for two seasons with a complicated leg injury that required five surgeries. Hearst's re-emergence this past season was nothing short of miraculous. Despite taking a significant pay cut last off-season in order to return to the team, Hearst proved his worth and most recently his loyalty.

There's little doubt that the 49ers willingness to stick by Hearst was a big part in his willingness to return to the 49ers. Hearst had an opportunity to return to his home town and play with the Falcons, a hard offer to turn down, but when it was all said and done, Hearst typically followed the footsteps of his fullback Fred Beasley who had re-signed earlier this off-season.

The six year contract effectively will allow Hearst to finish his career with the 49ers. The team is likely hoping that after a season or two, Hearst will give way to Kevan Barlow who they drafted and were impressed with last season. The two are simply an awesome change fo pace for each other, and with Beasley back in the backfield again, they along with Steve Mariucci who loves to turn to the run to take over a game.

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