Brian Westbrook is one of the best running backs in the league when it comes to catching the ball and turning up field in a flash. But as the 49ers desperately needed to gain yards and put up points during Sunday's loss in Seattle, Westbrook remained on the sideline. Westbrook didn't see a snap.
Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye explained yesterday that once the 49ers fell behind by a wide margin, he felt more comfortable with Frank Gore in the team's two-minute package.
"Brian is learning what we're doing, but what they were doing defensively in their sub-package in protection, 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.
Westbrook was signed on Aug. 16, meaning he's been learning the 49ers system for a month. What's more, the Seahawks signed former 49ers running back Michael Robinson only a week before Sunday's game, and Robinson contributed both on offense and special teams Sunday.
"I've got them pretty much down," Westbrook said today. "Continuing to study, continuing to get better at them, but I have them pretty much down. I was prepared to play - just didn't get any opportunities."
Westbrook conceded that he was disappointed he didn't get on the field - he can't remember the last time he was healthy and didn't play - but that he understood the situation.
"I thought that Frank would play the majority of the plays and that I would, when he was fatigued, tired, things like that, that I would play," he said. "Just the way the game turned out this last week. Just the amount of plays and different things like that throughout the game, I just didn't get any chances."
Does he think he'll get into Monday's game? "I have no clue," Westbrook said. "You have to ask Jimmy that."
Shawntae Spencer obviously hasn't seen the clip of him clobbering Ahmad Brooks during, what was until that point, a relaxed strip drill at the start of yesterday's practice. That's because Spencer's explanation of the event is a wee different than how it unfolded.
"I reached in to strip the ball and got my shoulder in, and I think he was a little too high. I was surprised that he flew the way he did, me being a small guy. It was nothing personal or nothing like that. Me and Ahmad - right after that happened when we got done with the drill, we hugged and things like that, talked about it. That's my man. He's been a friend of mine for a couple of years. It's nothing personal."
The hit is all the more noteworthy because it was one of Brooks' first full-contact practices since suffering a lacerated kidney on Aug. 6. Brooks suffered the injury when a blocking sled caught him on the left side of his rib cage. Spencer's hit was to Brooks' left shoulder.
Speaking of Brooks, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said today that both Brooks and Travis LaBoy would see action against the Saints. The 49ers typically activate three outside linebackers. It seems that they will have four on Monday, but Manusky didn't reveal how the snaps will be divied up.
"We're going to roll them in, they've got to play a little special teams as well," Manusky said. "So, it will be a good little man rotation between the four of them. Let's go, lets roll."
-- Matt Barrows