Notes From The Tent

August 17

I’m under a tent once again at 49ers training camp. Fans wearing Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis jerseys are streaming by. How many will be wearing Brian Westbrook jerseys by mid-season ?

Much has already been said or written about Westbrook’s arrival. The bottom line: is he one concussion away from the ICU ? You know everyone will be on pins and needles all season long, every time he gets the ball.

Taken in a vaccum, Westbrook’s arrival is mostly a positive for the 49ers. Who is going to say he isn’t an upgrade from Glen Coffee ? Westbrook can help in a number of ways.

If he’s close to healthy he can help the 49ers on third-down plays; an area in which they’ve been sadly lacking. He will probably bail out Alex Smith many times this season. If he’s effective there will be fewer three-and-outs.

It’s not just about scoring more points, but keeping the ball longer and keeping the defense fresh. That could make all the difference.

Westbrook is 31 and is far removed from his Pro Bowl days, but Frank Gore at 27 is no spring chicken, either. The 49ers badly needed an effective backup, and a change-of-pace guy. Westbrook is no speed-burner but he can provide a threat on the edges, especially on pass plays.

Anthony Dixon had a nice game in his preseason debut but the job of backing up Gore is too important to hand to a rookie. Mike Singletary understood that after using Coffee in that role last season. A healthy Westbrook is a no-brainer in that regard.

Very few good teams are one-back teams. Even the Vikings, who have the great Adrian Peterson, have had to lean on the likes of Chester Taylor, especially since A.P. has a habit of putting the ball on the ground. Gore has had his share of injuries; and if he went down and the ‘Niners had no Plan B, they were done.

I still don’t know what to make of the offense. Preseason tells you very little, especially with Gore getting the kid-glove treatment, rightfully so, and Crabtree out as well. The team will be built around the defense, but a competent offense is a must.

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