Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Aug 2010

49ers Sign Brian Westbrook

Well, after Glen Coffee retired, the 49ers needed another option at halfback. They've added one in Brian Westbrook.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 16 Aug 2010

27 comments, Last at 18 Aug 2010, 10:30am by chemical burn

Comments

1
by >implying implications (not verified) :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 6:33pm

I wish Westy the best. I just hope he stays healthy.

2
by spenczar :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 6:46pm

In case anybody has no idea what's going on with the niners running backs:

It's very unlikely that Westbrook sees heavy use, which is probably good. Frank Gore will continue to get ~90% of the touches I would expect. The #2 back will be a competition between Michael Robinson, who is a heavy slow sort of guy entering his fifth year, Anthony Dixon, a 6th-round rookie who looked surprisingly great with the ball in his first preseason game but who is uniquely awful in pass-protection, and Westbrook, who is more likely to take on a mentor role.

6
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 8:23pm

Uniquely awful is an overstatement, Dixon had a couple of good blocks in pass protection in the first preseason game but reports out of camp did suggest that he had a lot of work to do in this area.

Personally, I like the signing as long as his brain is up to it, he'll be the 3rd down back which would suit his abilities well at this stage in his career.

3
by Fred1965 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 7:22pm

Definitely better than Coffee

11
by Theo :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 3:48am

Glad they play in the evening, because nothing is better than coffee in the morning.

4
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 7:25pm

Hard to think of a better fit for Westbrook. Gore plays a lot, but gets dinged up and misses a game or two most every year. Westbrook probably has a few good games left but can't handle a full season of work.

5
by libelec (not verified) :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 8:15pm

Hopefully he won't be in charge of pass-protection duties, otherwise he might end up popping his brain out of his nose this time.

7
by Nathan :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 10:48pm

and people wonder why football players hide concussions

8
by DavidL :: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:39pm

Because popping your brain out of your nose makes for a good party trick?

14
by bingo762 :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 9:12am

He's awesome at pass blocking. I would think he's just as likely to get hurt running through a hole or catching a screen pass and getting blasted by a LB or CB.

9
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:11am

Poor Dan Snyder.

10
by Jerry :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:59am

Whatever the correct adjective for Mr. Snyder is, it's not "poor".

12
by Brandon (not verified) :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 8:34am

I wish Brian Westbrook all the best and hope he get a chance to prove he can still be good.

13
by Dean :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 8:54am

I think that he has the physical ability to play at a reasonably high level for another year or two.

However, if he sees more than about 20 snaps/game and more than a couple touches/game, he's going to break down. Everyone talks about the concussions - and certainly they're the most critical worry - but he's been getting injured all over his body for his entire career.

It's a legitimate concern that he'll end up crippled in some way. The fast twich muscel fiber is still there, but the frame is disintigrating.

15
by Adam B. :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 10:14am

I hope he's already offered his brain to Chris Nowinski's group for research, because I fear it's going to be available before Westbrook would have turned 50. This makes me sad; he was an exemplary Eagle for years, and it's time for him to retire so he can live a long life.

16
by mj (not verified) :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 10:28am

What number will Westbrook wear.

17
by Red Hedgehog :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 11:18am

Reports are that he's wearing #20.

18
by Fantasy Junkie (not verified) :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:51pm

Where do you think he ranks in the backup rankings?

Is he better than, say, Donald Brown in Indy?

19
by chemical burn :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 2:07pm

Forget back-ups: if he can avoid injury, Westbrook is still one of the best backs in league.

There is no reason to believe he can avoid injury.

20
by jimbohead :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 2:18pm

Where do we put the over/under for number of snaps he plays before injured? 60? 100? 300? Remember, he won't be an every-down player.

21
by chemical burn :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 2:52pm

Well, the whole depressing problem of Westbrook coming back is that he's had such bad concussion issues recently, so if he plays at all, to a certain extent he's going to be playing injured. He caught a knee in the head on a completely average tackle last year and that's what side-lined him for the rest of the season - when massive, recurring brain trauma is your problem, any aspect of playing football could easily end your career. It SHOULD HAVE ended his career last year. It's so depressing to see him come back and risk completely destroying his brain...

Westbrook is one of my three or four favorite players of all time which is why I want him to stop playing...

22
by Theo :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 5:29pm

Now, I understand that a fan hopes a player retires because the player had to many injuries.
The thing still it, it's up to the player.
The players may love the lifestyle, the game, the role they have on a team and the money.
Now, Westbrook had a concussion in week 7 last year and returned in week 10, to have another concussion. That should be a sign.
But if Westbrook chooses to go on and find another place to see if he can go on, I wish him all the best in San Fran and I will feel good for him. Regret is forever. Both ways.

23
by CathyW :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 7:19pm

Westy's in my top 3, I'd say. I really, really wish he would have retired.

24
by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 7:52pm

I think that you're going overboard on this. You have no medical information and there have been other players who have had terrible concussions and gone on to play for a while. I doubt that Troy Aikman would have been cleared to play in the 1993 Superbowl if the current concussion regime existed then and he played OK for a while. I admit it's a worry but there are more qualified people involved with the actual process.

25
by CathyW :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 8:50pm

The concussions are very worrisome, but I'm looking at his complete injury history. I can't really think of one season besides 2007 where he's been injury free. I'm certainly no medical expert, but it seems to me that at this point, his body is one good hit away from major, irreversible damage.

26
by jimbohead :: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 9:16pm

My bet is that he's there already. You get to know some of these athletes, even at the college level, who have a history of injuries, and you find that as old men they're in constant pain, and require multiple surgeries on hips and knees. Most of these guys know it, but find that its worth it. As long as Westbrook decides it's worth it to him, I'm happy as a 9ers fan to see him play in SF as a backup. But as a human being, I think I'm with chemicalburn; I'd like to see him retire.

27
by chemical burn :: Wed, 08/18/2010 - 10:30am

You're right that I'm not going on any specific medical information. Instead, I'm working from all of the emerging studies that suggest that concussions in general are far more prevalent, dangerous and damaging than previously thought - that is, the game itself has a concussion problem that's not being addressed in any fashion that should make football fans comfortable. Now throw in a guy with concussions problems and it's reached a point that should make watching Westbrook play make you feel bad...

Also, there's the fact that Andre Waters was my favorite player of all time and you can see why this makes me squeamish to see Westbrook go the same route...