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Isaac Bruce comes over to the other side of the tracks


Right off the bat, we all know what Isaac Bruce has done as a Ram and what he brings to the table.  Nonetheless, with his signing to a two year contract, I wanted to get the opinion of a Rams fan.  So I spoke with VanRam over at Turf Show Times, to get his thoughts on the departure of Isaac Bruce:

I'm going to miss Isaac Bruce. We all are. He's a class act on the field and off.  Mike Martz fondly remembers the Bruce from the Turf Show days, and I doubt there's anyone in the league who knows more about what Bruce is capable of, running routes and making catches.

Age concerns aside (momentarily), Bruce had 733 yards and 55 catches last season. That's actually an impressive number for a number two WR on team whose quarterbacks spent most of the time on their backs with opposing DEs high-fiving overhead. He even scored 4 TDs, the most he's had in 3 years, for a team that was among the league's worst offensively. Last season he topped the 1,000 yard mark with 74 catches. Part of that success though, came as opposing teams doubled up on Torry Holt, or just didn't worry about the Rams offense beating them all that much.

I don't see the logic in making Bruce a #1 receiver. He's played one complete season over the last three, and it stands to reason that he'll take more abuse as the #1 guy, even in a Martzian (does that make Niners fans Martzists?) system that figures to spread out the passing a bit more than the typical NFL team. He best as a complementary option at this point. The two year deal was a smart move by SF.

Warning: cliche coming. The intangibles that Bruce brings to a relatively young offense might be the best of this deal. He's a quiet guy, not the sort prone to loud face offs with locker room miscreants.  However, young receivers (who are you drafting anyway?) and quarterbacks will learn much about the game from Bruce, including longevity.

So the question becomes what kind of role do the 49ers expect Isaac Bruce to fill and what kind of role does he actually fill?  Considering the receiving corp, if anybody is going to become the #1 receiver in 2008 it's Vernon Davis.  He is by far the most physically gifted receiver/tight end on the team.  If Bruce can settle into that co-#2 role with Darrell Jackson, I think things turn out ok.  If the 49ers are relying on Bruce to be the #1 guy putting up 75-80 receptions and 1,200 yards, I think they're kidding themselves.  

Even if The Disease breaks out next year I see Isaac Bruce being the more talented Arnaz Battle in that he is a consistent threat that will make catches but not break too many big plays.  If the 49ers and fans expect that, everything else is just gravy.  I completely agree that Bruce's biggest contribution could come via the intangibles.  Bruce could be the type of teacher that will help all of our receivers learn what it takes to be a legit receiver in this league.

Either way, with a two year deal I'm perfectly content seeing Isaac Bruce in a 49ers uniform in 2008.