Where’s Westbrook? RB still waiting to debut

It didn’t happen in Philadelphia. Or at Villanova. Or at DeMatha High School. Or, presumably, in whatever Pop-Warner, pee-wee or midget league he played in.

Niners running back Brian Westbrook says he has never suited up for a football game, been completely healthy and not stepped on the field. Until Sunday.

Westbrook was signed during training camp to help spell Frank Gore, but his debut in maroon and gold is still on hold. Westbrook and backup quarterback David Carr were the only 49ers to not play a down against the Seahawks.

“I was prepared to play, just didn’t get any opportunities,” Westbrook said today.

Is that frustrating? “You always want to play,” he said. “You’re a
player, you want to play but I think Frank did a good job when he had
opportunities to run the ball so it’s hard to take him out any plays.

Does he expect to play Monday? “I have no clue. You’d have to ask Jimmy (Raye) that.”

On Thursday, Raye was asked why Westbrook didn’t leave the sideline and
the Niners offensive coordinator said his plan to insert Westbrook was
scuttled when San Francisco fell behind by 22 points early in the third
quarter. The Niners went to a hurry-up offense and, in passing mode,
Raye felt more comfortable keeping Gore in the game due to his knowledge
of the pass-protection schemes.

“It was more feasible for us to have Frank in there who has knowledge of
it than to put someone in there to cut maybe a defender loose and hit
the quarterback and create another problem,” Raye said.

Translation: He wanted to keep Alex Smith alive.

Westbrook seemed to acknowledge that he still has homework to do in regards to pass protection.

“I’m getting better with it every day,” he said. “I think I have a good
grasp of it but you don’t really know until you get out there, so I
think I have a pretty good grasp at it but I’m getting better at it
every day.”

By the way, don’t hold your breath waiting to see Gore and Westbrook in
the same backfield, an image that excited fans when Westbrook signed
this summer.

When asked about Westbrook’s role, Raye said, “There is a role on the
offense for him, he is Frank Gore’s backup. That is his role.”

Westbrook said he never assumed he would line up in the same backfield
as Gore, “Not necessarily. I thought Frank would play the majority of
the plays and then I would, when he was fatigued and tired and things
like that that I would play.”

Westbrook didn’t say if he’d like to be on the field with Gore.

At this point, I’m guessing, he’d just like to get on the field, period.

(NOTE: Westbrook actually has sat out a game when healthy. He sat on the sideline on Jan. 2, 2005 in a 38-10 loss to the Bengals because the Eagles had secured a playoff spot).

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