Westbrook wants to play, not ‘waste away’

Question: What if Frank Gore hadn’t broken his right hip this season?

Answer: Brian Westbrook, presumably, would have collected more cobwebs than carries this season.

Westbrook, a free-agent-to-be, clearly wants to avoid a repeat of his first season in San Francisco. If not for Gore’s injury, Westbrook, a two-time Pro Bowler who ranks fourth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage since 2004, was on pace to become one of the most decorated sideline decorations in NFL history: He had five carries – and 10 touches – in the season’s first 10 games.

Asked about his future today, Westbrook expressed a desire to sign with a team that would allow him to reach the postseason and, you know, touch the football. Westbrook signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal in mid-August.

“You want to go to a team that has the ability to win,” Westbrook said. “Also, I want to have the ability to contribute and the ability to play a little bit and not just kind of waste away on the bench.”

Given the Niners’ upcoming offseason overhaul, Westbrook, who had an exit interview with vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke today, said it’s possible he might want to stick around.

“Talking with Trent, it just really depends on the new coach and what his idea is and what his formula is,” Westbrook said. “You want to see what his idea of running backs is. We’ll see how it turns out.”

Westbrook, 31, has likely seen his last Pro Bowl, but he remains productive.

In the season’s final six games, he had 331 yards on 72 carries (4.6 yards per carry), 11 catches for 112 yards and scored five touchdowns.

He no longer views himself as a starter. In the future, though, he’d like to play somewhere where he can make a difference – not collect dust.

“I don’t, at this point in my career, want to be a starter, but I want to be able to help a team and help a team win,” he said. “Whether that’s 15 plays a game, whether that’s 10 plays a game, I want to be able to help a team win and make plays when I have the opportunity.”

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