Who's gonna be the thunder to Frank Gore's lightning in 2009?

Early last month we discussed the 49ers running back performance in 2008 and what to look for in 2009.  The poll I attached listed several options, and most notably, 30% thought Thomas Clayton would be the primary backup in 2009, 16% thought it would be a 2009 draft choice and 9% thought it would come through free agency.

I bring this up again because Barrows threw out some names the 49ers might very well be interested in.  Not sure if it's just speculation, but it's good to have some names to research.  That can be combined with Maiocco's report that buzz in Indy was that Deshaun Foster (along with Bryant Johnson) would not be back with the 49ers next season.

Some of the backs Barrows mentioned included Andre Brown (NC State), Cedric Peerman (Virginia), Devin Moore (Wyoming - not invited to the combine), Rashad Jennings (Liberty) and Javarris Williams (Tennessee State).  It should be noted that none of these guys is considered a first round pick and I think the one thing I'm truly confident of, is that the 49ers will not select a running back in the first round.  I'm sure that may stun some of you.

I went through ESPN's pre-combine rankings (Insider protected) and the guys listed above are ranked anywhere from 7th to 19th (with Moore unranked since he wasn't invited.

What I'm curious about is what kind of running back would really fit as a quality backup to Frank Gore.  Looking around the league, there's a lot of the "Thunder and LIghtning" types of duos.  However, does Frank Gore actually qualify as lightning?  Gore is 5'9, 217lbs, and built like the proverbial brick [site decorum]-house.  He's not the size of a Brandon Jacobs or Lendale White, but he seems to bring a bigger game than his height would indicate.

If you're looking for bigger, a guy like Rashad Jennings from Liberty might be the answer.  He's 6'1, 234 pounds and likes to barrel through folks (a video down the right side shows him benching 395 lbs).  He ran a 4.5 40, but clearly he's meant more as the bruising back.  Given his solid offseason, I don't imagine he'll last too long.

Considering how some of these folks are performing, when should the 49ers spend a draft pick on a running back, if at all?  As always, the 49ers have several holes to fill so it might be wise to wait.  Of course, the best option could be there in the 2nd or 3rd round, and maybe you just have to pull the trigger (do we even know who has "the trigger" now that McNolan is no more?).

Personally, I'm a Thomas Clayton guy (try not to throw rotten tomatoes at me over that one).  I'd rather spend the draft filling legit needs, but of course, if a big guy like Rashad Jennings fell in the draft (not exactly a realistic possibility), I could certainly see the value in grabbing him.

So, now that running backs have had their day at the combine, has anybody jumped out a little further onto your radar?

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