Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew was an awful lot like San Francisco 49er running back Frank Gore, once upon a time. The nature of the NFL is that teams need great player to build around, but when you see a player like Jones-Drew or Gore "waste away" on a very poor team, you can't help but feel bad for them.
Gore was that guy on various 49ers teams until Jim Harbaugh came to town. Jones-Drew has been that guy since entering the league. Given the way he's looked of late, he's never going to reach the level that Gore is currently at. He's struggled this season, and it's kind of sad to watch.
Jones-Drew is not a player to overlook, of course. If Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and the 49ers' linebackers aren't on their game, Jones-Drew will find a way to pick up big yards and make me look very silly. But it's just not something Jones-Drew has been able to do this year, his eighth year in the NFL.
Jones-Drew has 103 carries for 316 yards with two touchdowns. He's rushing at an average of 3.1 yards per carry, and his longest run of the season is a 28-yarder. Last week against the San Diego Chargers, Jones-Drew carried the ball nine times, his lowest total in four years in which he's actually played a full game.
He did manage 70 yards against the St. Louis Rams and 71 yards against the Denver Broncos in the two weeks prior to the San Diego game, so there is a little bit a steam built up there. He could end up having a decent season when it's all said and done, but it's not just about him being on a bad team. The put it simply: he doesn't look strong running the ball.
The fact that I wrote this post means he's probably going to do something great just to make me look stupid, but I think it's worth noting: he's not the player he once was and it doesn't seem likely he returns to that point. If longevity is the battle here, then Gore has won. He has more yards, more touchdowns and more carries -- and one more year -- and he's still looking better.
I don't really know what the point of this post is. There's no kind of revelation here or anything like that... I just think how far he's fallen is worth talking about.