Protecting Garcia --11/08/01
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A fundamental rule of football is that you protect the most important player on the field. That player, nearly 100% of the time, is the quarterback. In the 49ers case, that players is Garcia - and protecting him has never been so important.

To debate who the most important player on the 49ers is, would really be tedious. Cases could be made for nearly every star, offensive and defensive, but letís face the facts. The guy who has the ball in his hands the most, the one who makes the decision on where to put that ball when a game is on the line, is Garcia. Thus, Garcia is without question the most important player on the field.

With Garcia now hobbled by a MCL sprain, it is crucial that the 49ers get him the protection he deserves. The injured knee prevents Garcia from doing some of the scrambling, rolling out that has helped him greatly at avoiding sacks, interceptions and the likes there of. But with Garciaís mobility restricted, heís certainly still effective. That was quite obvious as he threw the ball around nicely against the Lions - when he was also injured.

Why then are we talking about protecting Garcia nowÖ instead of last week? Simple, this week opponent, the New Orleans Saints has a much faster, more aggressive defense that will do everything it can to get to Garcia. They arenít out to injure him, as no team ever is, but the way to shut down any offense in the NFL, is to get to the most important position on the field, and disrupt it.

With a hampered Garcia, and an overly aggressive, quick Saints defense, protecting Garcia will have to be a priority this week. That could mean keeping the tight end in to help block, maybe giving Beasley more field time, or keeping another running back in to help in the pass protecting. Itís crucial that Garcia escape without injury, as the 49ers will need him in each game. The offensive line needs to step up, and give Garcia that extra second, and keep the hits, during and after the play on Garcia down.

The coaches canít afford to change their style because of Garciaís injury. They still need to role him out. Let him improvise. Essentially, they need Garcia to keep doing what he is doing. It wonít be easy to make that happen this week, but the ability to protect Garcia, especially now that he is hobbled, will be a determining factor in the 49ers season.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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