Those eager to see a star-studded two-back set featuring Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook – a duo that’s amassed 17,077 career total yards and 105 TDs – might have to wait until at least Week 2.
Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye indicated Westbrook, who suffered a hamstring injury in the third preseason game and signed in the middle of training camp, is not fully in game shape.
“Until he gets ground into shape, football-shape-wise, and he’s feeling good physically about himself, then I think (his workload) will increase as we go forward,” Raye said. “But in this first game, we will play that by ear and give him some snaps and some certain packages as we see fit, but it won’t be a big run on him.”
When asked if his hamstring was 100 percent healthy, Westbrook said “about a hundred.”
“I think I’m ready to play,” he said. “I mean, Jimmy’s the coach so it’s his decision as far as who plays and how much. So whatever he says goes, but I’m ready to play.”
• If Westbrook is limited, rookie RB Anthony Dixon could get a few carries Sunday after leading the NFL in rushing during the preseason.
Raye’s face lit up when he was asked about the Niners’ sixth-round draft pick.
“He’s great because he’s fun,” Raye said. “Those guys that don’t know what they don’t know but play fast, play hard, and run for touchdowns, they’re easy to like. And he’s a big physical guy. You watch him and you don’t realize he’s a 240-plus-pound guy. I think he has a tremendous upside. He’s learning something every day. It’s Christmas morning with him, it’s a surprise all the time.”
By the way, Phil Barber told me Raye’s press conferences were entertaining. And he was absolutely right. He didn’t tell me they could also be confusing.
Here’s something else Raye, a 64-year-old native of Fayettville, N.C., said about Dixon, “When we got him, he didn’t know H from apple butter, but he’s come a ways from that point now, at least he’s got the S-H part of it”
• Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky didn’t quite captivate his audience like Raye. But he did provide an interesting moment when asked about Seattle possibly attacking backup safety Reggie Smith in passing situations.
“Sure,” Manusky said. ‘I would.”
Manusky smiled and briefly paused. And, perhaps realizing it sounded like he was slamming his player, he continued, “Reggie’s a good ball player. He’s starting to mature like I said earlier during training camp. He’s getting better and better and the more looks those safeties see, just like any position, they get better at it. Attack him, go ahead, that’s fine.”
• Plenty of words have been devoted to Nate Davis, a third-string quarterback who recently became a practice-squad QB.
Davis might hold a record (unofficial) for the most ink given to a player who could watch a season’s worth of Sundays dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt.
But before Davis wanders into practice-squad obscurity, perhaps to reappear in the spring, he did have some thoughts on his roller-coaster week in which he was waived by the Niners on Monday, unclaimed by 31 NFL teams and placed on the eight-man practice squad less than 48 hours later.
Davis said it was “hard” to go unclaimed, but feels comfortable sticking with San Francisco.
“Of course,” he said. “Definitely. I like this place a lot.”
When asked how difficult his recent experience has been, specifically being publicly called out by Mike Singletary for his work habits, he said the criticism will help him.
“It’s a great experience,” he said. “It shows that you have to work extra hard from the standpoint of being a quarterback.”