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49ers Position Battle Review: RBs (Post-preseason Game 1)

Dear NN,

This is Rock Cartwright here. You guys know me. Or, since I'm pretty new to the 49ers, it might be better to say that you know guys like me. Come on, you know - those guys who bring special teams value. When I make a roster, I do it as a Running Back, but I'm not really a RUNNING BACK. I'm a special teams specialist. I mean, since I was drafted in the seventh round in 2002, I have under 1000 career yards rushing. That's a disappointing season for my friend Frank Gore. Oh yeah, did I mention we are friends? He even signed some autographs for me - I mean for my kids and stuff. You know, kids. Those who really craze autographs from people as famous as Frank Gore.

Ahem. Well, this is why it should be surprising that I got 8 carries for 44 yards on Friday. I don't think anybody was expecting me of all the approximately 746 RBs on this team to get 8 carries. I'm hoping that this will shake up the roster positions for the season. Most people probably assumed (reasonably) that the roster was pretty set with Gore, Hunter, James, Jacobs, and maybe Dixon. If I made the team, it would be as a specialist.

And after the last game, I probably will. And here's the really crazy thing: if the team can get actual offensive output from me as simply a specialist, then hot diggity donuts, I was a steal of a signing! That doesn't mean I will get play time, in fact, I probably won't. I mean, Gore is still the guy, and to be frank, Hunter looked pretty awesome on Friday. He hit holes hard and cut quickly when necessary. His vision looked good and his pass protection looked excellent.

Moreover, that James fellow also had a good game. Obviously, a lot of it was against lesser defenders, and to be honest, it does look like he will require some more time to adjust to the size and speed of the NFL (thus making Hunter the de facto back-up at this point), but the talent is obviously there. The way he played after a short off-season should reassure most doubts, though maybe not erase them.

And, I'll be honest, I've spent a few years in the league. I've heard those rumors about Brandon Jacobs: that he can't convert on short-yardage situations and all. Well, phooey. I'm totally willing to throw out all of his previous career showings and assume that the conversion capacity we saw on Friday is what we can expect. Never mind that he still runs a bit straight up and down, he looked good. Maybe losing that weight has helped him out...

I'll be honest: my greatest chance of solidly making the roster is if Anthony Dixon still looks like, well, Anthony Dixon. I don't mean that he has bleached porcupine hair. I mean if he continues to being the expert at hitting the line and falling down for a two yard gain. Not much progress since last season... Sure, he had a nice game statistically, but he didn't really pass the eyeball test.

So, hey, maybe I've magically generated some upside on offense. Don't think about it rationally, just hope. Because, if I'm just a special teams guy, then great. But oh man, if I could actually add something to this already stacked RB stable, then great. You all should take it.

'til next game,