Plugging the holes
April 17, 2001 at 12:00 AM
By Ben Squire
The off-season could be described at best as a form of musical chairs. Players that were once cheered for by the home team crowd are now being jeered as a member of the opposition team.
Such is the way of life for most professional football players. Very rarely is it that a player drafted will finish his career with the team that has chosen them. It is unfortunate that players such as Jerry Rice will be finishing out their playing lives in uniforms other than the ones that made them a household name.
Others, such as Charlie Garner, have departed due to the brutal reality that is the salary cap.
"My loyalty runs deep, but I know this is a business," said Garner. "I wish the 49ers the best. Things didn't work out there, but they gave me the opportunity to paint this canvas that I now have."
However, there are those who believe that if the 49ers really wanted to retain Garner they could have.
Deuce McAllister, who had visited the 49ers headquarters just recently, hinted at what may have been the 49ers game plan all along.
"Even before Charlie Garner signed (with Oakland Friday), they told me they were going to draft a running back. I think I fit their offense pretty well because of my receiving skills", McAllister said.
Funny that this should come from someone that most people regard to be the replacement for Garner. The general consensus amongst most football brains is that the 49ers like McAllister's ability … even enough to draft him if he falls to the ninth position.
When asked about the possibility of being selected by the 49ers McAllister said "It would be sort of a dream come true. But if it happens, it happens; and if it doesn't, I'll still pull for the Niners …"
This paints an interesting scenario. With former Canadian Football League QB Jeff Garcia and a running back that has been compared to the likes of Marshall Faulk, comparisons between the 49ers and Rams will be made. This can only be a positive considering the Rams offense has been re-writing the record book over the last couple of seasons.
Aside from the obvious vacancy at the running back position, one of the 49ers other glaring needs are on the defensive line, however this may be sorted prior to draft day.
Unless you have been living on another planet for the last few weeks, the rumblings around the NFL hint at defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield making a comeback to the Bay Area.
Stubblefield enjoyed the majority of his successes whilst suited up in the red and gold. He combined with Bryant Young to form one of the most imposing tandems in football and earnt Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1997.
Judging from his comments made last week, it seems obvious that he is keen to renew acquaintances with Young. "This is home," Stubblefield said. "It was a 'I left my heart in San Francisco' kind of deal."
Bill Walsh also reiterated this sentiment. "He has a number of really great years ahead of him in the NFL. We want to sign him as soon as possible."
With the possible return of Stubblefield and a well-planned draft strategy, the 49ers are well on their way to plugging the holes that were so apparent in last years 6-10 effort.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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