The successor to the Garrison Hearst throne on The San Francisco 49er’s is making a statement in the NFL. His name is none other then Charlie Garner the greatest offensive punch last year in 1999 and is now duplicating that and better with a outstanding performance in several games.

Garners success has been left in the NFL darkroom for far too long, his successes and accomplishments on the field were often ignored and seldom talked about due to all the other great backs that were making records on winning teams.

The 49er’s struggles in 1999 were a large part in that way of thinking, with Garner being the only main ingredient in any offensive punch they had at that time, due to weak performances out of the receivers, a porous secondary and a overall adjustment to several new starting quarterbacks.

Charlie Garner is deserving of that recognition that sidestepped him for so long and he is making waves here early with the first quarter of the season at an end.

On September 24th in Texas Stadium against arch-rival Dallas Cowboys he put on a show that I simply have the up-most admiration for, he did it in a cool and quiet manner never trying to bring attention to just himself, he simply put it in the end zone multiple times and set new club records.

Charlie Garner was named the NFC Offensive Player-of-the Week following the Career-High 201-yard rushing performance against the Cowboys. Garner rushed for a club-record 201 yards and one touchdown, and caught three passes for 34 yards to total 235 yards from scrimmage in the 49er’s win over Dallas 41-24.

Garner became the first player in 49er’s history to rush for 200 yards in a game, achieving a feat that eluded 49er great running backs such as Roger Craig, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and Ricky Watters.

“We were able to keep running the football, that was the key,” said Garner. “It’s a huge win for us. We’ve got a lot of young guys. To get that first win, to let the young guys get a taste of what it’s like to win in the NFL, It will help them take their game to another level.”

In his seventh season out of Tennessee, this is Garner’s second Player of the Week award. He really epitomizes what a great running back is, he has accomplished personnel and team oriented goals since coming to the 49er’s as a free agent on (06-19-99) he has taken the reins from 49er superstar Garrison Hearst and guided us in the right direction with positive scoring production.

I can remember back after Hearst went down the uproar there was about whom would be able to come in and duplicate or achieve the results that only Garrison Hearst was able to do. Certainly when a franchise loses a premier player like Hearst for example the results can be devastating.

We all thought that it was the end of a long running success the 49er’s have had with their running game, it was this running game that was the steering wheel for the team towards the playoffs.

Charlie Garner drafted by Philadelphia in the second round of 1994, was the coming savior, he came out in 1999 to rush for 1,229 yards averaging 5.1 yards per carry average. He inspired me with New Hope that the 49er’s at least had this weapon to attack with after the season ending injury to Steve Young.

He feints, he gives a shoulder shake, he spins, he reverses the field all these attributes Garner has the ability to bear and be successful at it. I believe he has only tapped the crown of his potential as a player and that keeping him long-term is a very good financial and goal-oriented idea.

“Charlie is just an outstanding running back,” 49er’s quarterback Jeff Garcia said. “He does a great job running through open holes. He creates holes, he makes people miss. He’s exciting, the best in the league at his position.”

What positive and encouraging words of wisdom from a still adapting starting quarterback to say about his running back? I echo those same sentiments, as Garner to me is the real deal here, with so many more games ahead he is on target to be the best rusher in the NFL as long as he stays injury free.

Charlie Garner’s success on the field with the help of a team-oriented offensive line that deserves all the credit allows the 49er’s to dominate the time of possession battle on the field. And that is critical to keeping young and developing defense off the field and well rested.

“He’s such a great runner;” 49er’s guard Ray brown said. “He’s good at getting the linebackers or the safeties trying to tackle him and those guys miss. It creates some advantageous match-ups.”

Back before the game at Texas Stadium 49er’s Coach Steve Mariucci mapped out a dream scheme against the Cowboys, 30 or more carries for Garner, plus 20 or more completions for quarterback Jeff Garcia, would add up to a 49er’s victory. Yes, even for a winless team.

“How many carries did he have?” Mariucci asked afterward. He couldn’t keep up. Nor could Garner, who lost count and, truth be told, didn’t really care.

“I didn’t know I was carrying the ball that many times until after the game,” said Garner, who gained 1,764 total yards, third best in the NFL and 1,229 rushing yards in 1999. “But when you get in a groove like that, you want to just keep pounding. I think we can run the ball a lot more.”

The 49er Coaching Staff went to great lengths to find a way to duplicate what the Philadelphia Eagles had done to the Dallas Cowboys in their season-opener beating Dallas 41-14 and noted how running back Duce Staley rode his blockers en route to a 201-yard rushing effort in that game.

With six running backs on the 49er roster Charlie Garner stands far on top of the others, their playing time has been severely hampered with his outstanding performances in several games Dallas being his icing on the cake.

We have yet to see any real pressure to unseat him as the starter, Garrison Hearts is running sprints with the team at this time, and making wonderful progress. His expected time back as projected was mid-October, however even if he does make it then will he be at 100%?

And still does he unseat Garner, my answer to that is a flat out NO! Too much has been accomplished by Garner to reward Hearst a starting role even if ready-to-play as he might be later in the season.

Hearst should understand this and realize where the team is at now, and where they want to be at season end. Hearst should in all instances only be a situational rusher to test his endurance over the long haul of the season, still there is no guarantee that Hearst will be able to play period.

When 49er’s running back Charlie Garner scores a touchdown, he doesn’t prance and preen around in the end zone for television cameras to take his picture. All he does is cross his arms at chest level.

And his point is made to the proud folks who live in Baileys Crossroads, Va., and a small section of Falls Church.

“It’s for my hometown,” Garner said. “I’ve been doing it since junior college (at Scottsdale, Ariz.). I’m just saying, “thank you for your support.”

Garner is leading the whole NFL in rushing this season with 423 yards on 77 carries in four games. While rushing for a team-record 201 yards on 36 carries, Garner also got into the end zone once against the Dallas Cowboys.

In Game Five against Arizona Charlie Garner capped a 77-yard rushing performance with a pair of 1-yard scoring touchdowns. Certainly this was another indication of Garners true worth to this offensive mindset.

Garner has excelled since coming to the 49er’s, but his years with the Eagles did not go so smoothly. He grew disenchanted in Philadelphia as far back as 1995 when a Philadelphia newspaper reported that he and tackle Bernard Williams had tested positive for drugs by the NFL.

Williams admitted it, but Garner denied the accusations. The league exonerated Garner, who still has a libel suit pending against the newspaper.

Running Back Charlie Garner is a premier and elite back in the NFL, this has been proven with his latest outstanding performance at Texas Stadium, capping a successful 1999 season. He can only continue to destroy rushing records as time goes by.

He has become a most effective inside runner, and has the ability to go around and juke and jive his way to a first down. He also is a viable threat as a receiver making defenses crazy to figure out what his next move is going to be.

He is the all-around all purpose back that all teams would kill to have in their arsenal, some do have this type of back, however they do not have Charlie Garner who pounds the ball with intensity and a relentlessness rivaled only by the most elite.

I am proud to have such a talented and diverse individual as Garner on our roster, he excels at everything he does and his work ethic is unquestioned. I believe should he remain healthy he can shatter last year’s mark by far reaching the 1,500 mark in rushing yardage with the assistance of this solid and talented offensive line so far.

“He just needs a crack,” 49er’s fullback Fred Beasley said. “He’s so small and he gets skinny in those holes. I think people still doubt him as far as his ability to carry the ball and be an every-Sunday, 30-carries-a-game type of running back.”

Garner has proven in my eyes he does have the durability and the strength to go the long distance in every game, and in any situation, there are still skeptics to this very point I’m sure, however the evidence is bold and clear in every aspect.

The San Francisco 49er’s are a running football team, Charlie Garner is the centerpiece of this mantle and his productivity and success lies with great game strategy, proper coaching technique, a pulling and blocking type of offensive line and the personnel motivation that drives him to succeed above all else, this is what makes Charlie Garner a winner.