I tried to make this into multiple paragraphs but for some reason it all gets bled together I'm not sure why please give pointers as to how I can avoid this in the future. I ask that you brave the huge block of text to read through this because I really want to know what fellow Niner fans think about this topic. Over the last few yrs we have ran Frank Gore into the ground because he was our entire offense and we had to lean on him immensly. Let's not make the same mistake over working him and possibly losing him for the yr.
With a very soft schedule remaining I think we should rest Frank as much as possible in the coming weeks, give him the week off against Arizona atleast. This isn't speaking to packing it in and getting ready for the playoffs, I think the world of Frank Gore but I don't think we would drop off that much with a Hunter/Dixon combo. Frank should get completely healthy before making his return, I think we could stand to win games without him until he was completely healthy enough to return.
This would give us the best chance to win games in December. Frank has always been a warrior and played through injuries but I just don't think it's necessary with a look at our remaining schedule and our depth at rb.
Hunter has shown us all season he is capable of finding holes getting into the open field and making big plays. He also catches well out of the backfield and pass protects. Hunter has continued to take advantage of all oppurtunities thrown his way. Hunter in my opinion isn't a guy who can take on the whole load by himself but with a rb by committee approach I think he can be very effective in running and catching.
I think after Dixon has been dropped to the third string on the depth chart he has been given more than enough motivation to accept his role and pound out the tough carries and pick up short yardage situations. Dixon has been very inconsistent at best but I remember the guy who led the league in rushing during the preseason just a few yrs ago. He was also the entire offense at Miss.St. In my opinion his biggest knock was him having happy feet and not hitting holes, this plays to him not being comfortable with assignments and scheme. I remember him saying in multiple interviews his biggest challenge would be learning the offense and understanding his assignments.
I think that with a few yrs of NFL experience and 9 wks of practice he should be more than ready to come in and be the player we all expected him to be early in his career. Coaching also has a huge role to play in him realizing his potential.
As far as the whole team is concerned I think at certain positions we could stand to rest players throughout games, instead of for whole games. Not giving them weeks off or even halfs or quarters off but trickling in good backups throughout could prove to be a good method of resting players. Guys like RJF, Spencer, Boone, Rachal,K.Williams, Grant, A.Smith, Brock, M.Williams,R.Smith, I.Williams, and Dobbs could be used throughout games in a more prominent role in games against divisional rivals to spell our starters.
I think we should do it this way in large part because I don't think we will have the luxury of resting guys outright in our pursuit of a first round bye and homefield througout. So I think we should give guys rest by minimizing snaps throughout the game or for larger chunks in decisive victories. I think resting players for whole games (unless they are really beat up like Frank) could either cost us victories or really mess with rythym and chemistry. I look to the Colts with Manning or the Bengals a few yrs ago for examples as to what resting players like that can do to your team.
The NFL is all about momentum and what have you done for me lately so I think it's critical to keep winning and stay competitive. I just think we can still be competitive win games and maintain our rythym while resting players if we do it sparingly and in advantagous situations. This coaching staff has been wonderful so I have no doubts or worries as to what the Niners will do when it comes to the health of our players. I wonder what you guys think we should do in resting players when the time comes. What would your strategy be? What are the pros and cons to resting players late in the season for this team specifically? How should we handle Franks injuries? How good can the rb tandem of Hunter/Dixon be? Is that the future of our running game?