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In all my years as a NFL and 49er die-hard enthusiast I have never seen a better fullback in this game as I have seen Fred Beasley perform, he has in my eyes encompassed all the attributes and duties a true fullback/running back are able to do and more.
In 1998 The San Francisco 49ers drafted Fred Beasley out of Auburn in the Sixth Round (180th) overall, Anticipating he would be the man to clear travel lanes and be a short to intermediate receiving weapon as well as a short-yardage overachiever to make those goal-line entrances for the score and critical third down plays.
He was in all essence supposed to image or better former great fullback William Floyd who is now with the Carolina Panthers, Well Beasley has done just that and is even having a career breakout year as his team struggles to find its identity and purpose in the midst of a transitional and rebuilding year after 16 years of glory.
In 1998, the so-called draft experts said Fred Beasley was too slow to be a running back and too small to be a fullback. Well the 49ers drafted him anyway with the sole purpose of being the backup to then starting fullback Marc Edwards now a Cleveland Brown and be a special teams contributor.
He not only was able to eventually surpass Edwards as the lead starter; he also was able to make the fullback position a very critical link to a successful west-coast offense, which heavily relies on this position to be successful.
“When the 49er’s drafted me, I don’t think they knew what they were getting,” said Beasley. “But I knew. It was just a matter of them giving me the opportunity to show them what I could do.”
Beasley went on in 1999 to finish the season with career highs in rushing (276) and receiving yards (282), Beasley emerged as a valuable commodity in the 49er offense with his motivation, intensity, personnel will and solidifying his place as a key player in this offense.
“Fred Beasley has made dramatic improvements,” said 49er’s Running Backs Coach Tom Rathman, a former 49er’s starting fullback and a member of two Super Bowl champions. “Overall, he’s a key 'pawn’ in our game. He’s got all the ability. It’s just a matter of him taking advantage of the opportunity, which so far, he’s done.”
The 6-foot, 238-pound veteran has had trouble from time to time staying focused on the game. “All players’ experience losing focus at one time or another” said Beasley. So he drives himself to improving his mental focus as he improves his physical game.
Beasley gives all the credit in the world for his upbringing to his beloved mother; she has been a source of strength for this remarkable athlete to tap into from time to time. Beasley’s mother also had to be his father after he was murdered. He never really saw her shed a tear after the incident. He recalled that even when times continued to be tough, she always persevered for her family.
Beasley and his eight siblings have accepted the job of taking care of their mother. “When I wanted something, she didn’t hesitate to give it to me,” he said. “If she didn’t have it, she’d break her back to get it. Now that I’m in a position to help her, I won’t hesitate to do so.”
In the season opener at Atlanta Beasley was credited for three touchdowns, aligning himself with the very best in the NFL and hopefully to continue. “It felt great getting the ball so many times,” Beasley said. “But you know what? I’m sore. Really sore. Every part of me hurts.”
NFL experts and sportswriters labeled Beasley a “human battering ram,” His ability to catch the ball in short-yardage situations showed in his two receiving touchdowns, and Beasley’s toughness against goal-line defenses was very much evident with another touchdown.
Starting Running Back Charlie Garner has nothing but praise and respect for Beasley as he is the front crash bar for this teams elite runner, helping him create even better team and career statistics beyond exceptional boundaries.
“The most important thing is to continue doing what I’m doing, If my number is called again, I want to be the guy that gets into the end zone. I want to be that reliable force,” said Beasley. “That’s what I look for.”
Fred Beasley’s desire to better this rebuilding franchise speaks volumes for the youth that are in depth positions everywhere in their daily lineups. He continues to be very optimistic about the season, in his eye’s once you step out onto the playing field you are no longer a rookie but someone that must contribute in a positive manner.
“When the season starts, we don’t see them as rookies,” Beasley said. “They know their jobs and what’s expected of them.”
In College and the Pro’s Beasley had to battle the perception that he was too undersized (220 pounds) and slow (a 4.91 40-time at the combine) to be a successful NFL fullback.
But the 40 time proved to be a fluke, and Beasley, 25, fought to pack nearly 20 pounds to his frame. And he pushed aside FB Tommy Vardell in Week 4 last season in 1999, and turned all heads coaches and fans alike with stunning plays, such as the 44-yard scoring burst at Carolina on Dec. 18th, his only carry in that particular game.
Beasley seems to play the game with a conviction unequaled in a world of athletic expectation that has the same formula, which equals winning at all costs. He is a positive influence to his teammates on and off the field, a motivator that strives to squeeze the excellence out of every play and every snap.
I have such high regard for this incredible athlete that I feel can only become better. In the NFL the fullback position continues to have a diminishing role around the league as a result of a drought of talent and the development of offenses away from the power game.
Salaries are a reliable way to determine what kinds of players teams value. Not including Tampa Bay’s Mike Alstott, who’s really a tailback, only three fullbacks-Denver’s Howard Griffith, New England’s Tony Carter and Green Bay’s William Henderson-have a base salary of $750,000 or more this year. Only Griffith tops $1 million.
This is a scary scenario as we see this trend turning into a real reality, Beasley must be kept long-term certainly he already has proven so much and made immediate positive returns for this franchise. If anyone was looked at as an absolute playmaker Beasley has done this.
Teams cannot value players that don’t exist. Certainly, the draft is not producing fullbacks the way it once did. Only three true fullbacks were drafted in 2000, none before the fourth round. Compare that with 15 drafted tight ends and 34 drafted receivers.
It’s not the Larry Csonka and the John Riggins type of players who are missing. You can still find some big, powerful, straight-line runners such as Alstott and San Diego’s Jermaine Fazande. But where have all the Matt Suheys, Maurice Carthons, Mark van Eeghans and Tom Rathmans gone?
Rathman now the 49er’s running backs coach, believes some of the best fullback prospects are becoming linebackers. Terrelle Smith, who became the highest drafted fullback this year when the Saint’s selected him in the fourth round, was converted to fullback from linebacker his senior year at Arizona State.
This further proves the rarity we have in a gem like Beasley and the pressing need to keep this individual long-term. He is without question one of the fastest up and coming stars in the NFL today and recognition with an extended contract is paramount.
Perhaps Beasley’s most impressive trait to date is his work ethic, and his level head. It’s something Rathman, the former 49er’s workhorse, always demanded of himself as a player and something he impacts to his pupils.
“That’s something we try to emphasize, when you get an opportunity, take advantage of it. Some guys will get opportunities. Some guys do not. Some guys only get one. So you have to treat it like you’ll only get one chance,” Rathman said. “And Fred has done a pretty good job up to date.”
Certainly Quarterback Jeff Garcia can see the value of a Fred Beasley he has been there far more often for him then any offensive playmaker, however he must spread the wealth it is imperative he gets the ball downfield to his receivers to make big plays. Beasley is an honest supporter of this not wanting to be the lone superstar he believes in equal distribution among his teammates.
“When he gets opportunities to carry the ball or catch the ball, he makes plays. He showed that last year,” said Garcia. “He’s ready to take that to the next level and be even more of a contributor.”
Well Guess What Garcia? Beasley has arrived, Just watch him and you all will see, and has already led the league this season already. All he does is make touchdowns and so much more, He brings versatility to this position that redefines it and is most impressive.