Despite lack of depth, 49ers’ backfield ranks highly

By Danny Dabiri  |   Sunday, July 15, 2007  |  Comments( 10 )

San Francisco 49ers
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The folks over at Scouts Inc. ranked the positions of each NFL team, from one to 32. The San Francisco 49ers cracked the top 10 at the running back position, ranking ninth in the league. The primary reason for the ranking is Frank Gore, who proved to be one of the best runners in the league last season, compiling an NFC-best 1,695 yards on the ground.

All of the teams that Scouts Inc. ranked higher than the 49ers feature at least two solid running backs on their roster. Let's take a brief look at the top five.

Not surprisingly, the San Diego Chargers, thanks to MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and No. 2 man Michael Turner, top the list.

The Kansas City Chiefs rank second behind workhouse Larry Johnson, whose 416 carries led the league last season. Former Minnesota Vikings starting RB Michael Bennett provides the Chiefs with a veteran change-of-pace back to take some of the pressure off Johnson.

The Washington Redskins, thanks to the emergence of Ladell Betts, who serves as a great complement to Clinton Portis, are third.

Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Vikings round out the top five. The Jaguars have a solid blend of young and old with productive second-year man Maurice Jones-Drew and the aging Fred Taylor sharing the workload.

The Vikings expect rookie sensation Adrian Peterson to make a similar impact alongside last season's starter, 1,216-yard man Chester Taylor.

The 49ers' lack of depth at running back has certainly devalued the perception of their backfield. Despite the fact that Gore is a stud, the uncertainty surrounding the quality of backups Michael Robinson and Maurice Hicks should pose some concern. If Gore were to go down for whatever reason, it remains unclear if either Robinson (a former college quarterback) or Hicks (who averaged only 2.8 yards per carry in 2006) can step in and carry the load.

Considering the heavy workload Gore has taken on recently, the team should probably look to add another proven back before the season to keep arguably the NFC's top back running strong for years to come.

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