Time For Peterson To Make Impact
June 27 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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This season will be a pivotal one for former first round draft pick Julian Peterson. The linebacker had a very impressive rookie season, but tailed off last season where he was forced to stay out at home. With the linebacking crew a year more experienced it should really help Peterson fend off rookie Saleem Rasheed for next season.
Peterson is well versed in the 49ers defense. He knows where he needs to be so he doesnít miss plays - but the linebacker has not been the flashy play maker the 49ers were expecting when they drafted him. Perhaps itís because heís played along side four different linebackers over two years. Because of this, Peterson may have been told to be less aggressive as the rest of the linebackers grew into the 49ers defense.
Another theory is that Peterson was not moved around the field much last season. His speed was thus less of an asset, as defenses usually knew where he was and could thus block him quite well. The speed was still helpful in coverage, but because he wasnít moved around much he was less productive.
Whatever the cause, Peterson will have to step up his production and make some plays this season or he may feel he heat of rookie Saleem Rasheed. The entire linebacking core is returning to the team (though there may be some changes at the starting positions) this will be a huge asset to the defense. The team is also now quite deep at linebacker, and that too should allow them more defensive packages, more versatility and should keep them fresh throughout the season.