The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Robinson vs Clayton - The Key Battle of Camp

With Gore sidelined for most, if not all, of the preseason, the 49ers will get a very good look at his young backups, second-year man Michael Robinson and rookie Thomas Clayton. Robinson, (left) a former quarterback at Penn State, arrived last year as a fourth-round draft pick and was immediately moved to running back. The 6-foot-1, 228-pounder showed some potential -- such as when he scored twice in a 38-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3. But he was rather inconsistent overall - an expected result from a guy playing a new position and not getting many chances to do so at that.

Robinson's most active game came in a 34-20 win over Oakland, but he gained just 21 yards on 12 carries (1.8 per attempt) in the same contest in which Gore racked up 134 yards on 27 rushes (5.0 yards per carry). Robinson finished his rookie season with 38 carries for 116 yards, but his per-carry average of 3.1 yards was paltry -- especially when contrasted against Gore's 5.4 average behind the same line. Most chalk that up to the fact that Robinson was still learning how to find holes and pick his way through a defense. With a year of experience and another training camp, Robinson will be expected to be much more successful in relief of Gore this year. The additional repetitions with Gore hurt should greatly help Robinson and he looked reasonably good in Monday night's preseason opener against Denver. Robinson scored the team's only touchdown in a 17 - 13 loss to the Broncos in which he saw limited action rushing 6 times for 25 yards.

Meanwhile, Robinson could be pushed by Clayton, (right @ Kansas) the 49ers' sixth-round pick out of Kansas State this year. That's assuming Clayton is up to the task. His history indicates he might not be. He obviously is talented. Clayton began his college career at Florida State before transferring to Kansas State after his freshman year. As a sophomore in 2004, he backed up Darren Sproles. Then in 2005, he was leading the nation in rushing after two games (164.5 per contest) when he was benched for a week after being arrested for assaulting a parking-services official. Clayton then was suspended for the first game of his senior season after being convicted of misdemeanor aggravated battery on that parking attendant. Clayton returned to start four games before being benched again with what Kansas State coaches called an "undisclosed injury."

Despite his lack of action at Kansas State -- he barely reached 1,000 yards over three seasons -- the 49ers liked what they saw of Clayton at the Senior Bowl. The 5-10, 218-pound back is a shifty runner who does well between the tackles and makes people miss but does not catch the ball consistently well and is not a willing blocker. Coach Mike Nolan said earlier this year that Clayton is best suited to duty on first and second downs. He saw considerable action in the opener and looked adequate, gaining 55 yards on 17 carries.

Clayton has been criticized for not accepting coaching and not giving complete effort. But if Bishop Harris, the 49ers' running backs coach, can change that, Clayton has the ability to challenge Robinson for the No. 2 tailback spot. The 49ers also have rookie Arkee Whitlock and four-year veteran Maurice Hicks, (left #43) and Nolan said the team might bring in another back while Gore is out.

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