In a rather shocking news for the San Francisco 49ers running back Glen Coffee has announced his retirement. This was going to be Coffee's second year with the 49ers after being drafted in the third round out of the University of Alabama.
With Coffee retiring the 49ers do not have a lot of depth in the backfield and now there's a question mark on what exactly are the 49ers going to do now that Coffee has retired?
If Frank Gore goes down with an injury, the 49ers have very little experience or depth left at the running back position. Just rookie Anthony Dixon who was selected in the sixth round of this years draft moves and Michael Robinson will retain his role as third down back and special teams player.
Thomas Clayton has been on the 49ers squad the last two preseasons but is no longer available after being signed by the New England Patriots. So, what are the options for the 49ers?
At this point it's either making a trade to bring in a backup or looking at the free agents still out there. Here's a list of some players who could provide depth in the backfield for the 49ers.
Ladell Betts has been a backup for most his career but still has managed to have some success running the football. He had a career year in 2006 in which he went over 1,000 yards rushing. He also can be used on kickoffs as well.
In his career he has carried the ball 776 times for 3,176 yards, a 4.1 yard per carry average with 13 touchdowns. Catching the ball out of the backfield, he's caught 165 passes for 1,505 yards, good for a 9.1 yards per carry average and three touchdowns.
Again 2006 was his best season—he carried the ball 245 times for 1,154 yards, good for an average of 4.7 yards per carry and four touchdowns. Receiving wise in 2006 he caught 53 passes for 445 yards, good for an 8.4 yards per catch average and a touchdown.
Chris Brown could be an option for the 49ers. Like Betts he has had a 1,000 yard season before. In his career he's carried the ball 722 times for 3,024 yards, good for a 4.2 yards per carry average, and has scored 19 touchdowns. Brown isn't much of a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, though.
His best season came in 2004 with Tennessee when he carried the ball 220 times for 1,067 yards, good for a 4.9 yards per carry average, and also scored six touchdowns.
Brian Westbrook hasn't been signed yet and he offers the most experience for the 49ers. Westbrook did have some injuries last year and his age may be a factor, but he could be a tremendous value for the 49ers because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
He's been a proven starting running back in the NFL and has been a two-time Pro Bowler and also once an All-Pro.
Kevin Jones had a rough year in Chicago last year but could be an answer for the 49ers. Jones did have a 1,000 yard season in his rookie year with the Detroit Lions.
DeShawn Wynn could be an interesting pickup. He doesn't have as much experience as Betts, Brown, or Westbrook but he's been in the league for three years. His rookie year he showed that he could be a capable backup, but injuries have slowed down his career.
Kolby Smith could be looked at as well. Like Wynn, he did well in his rookie season as a backup but slowed down the past few seasons.
As for one trade the 49ers could consider is to Buffalo for Marshawn Lynch. This would be definitely an interesting trade for the team. Although Lynch has had his issues with the law, a change of scenery could do him wonders.
Another reason to go after Lynch is that he is a local product having played his college career at the University of California. Also, under the direction of Mike Singletary, Lynch could mature and emerge as a capable backup for Gore.
Also, Reggie Bush could be an interesting pickup in a trade. He has never lived up to the expectations in New Orleans. He currently is the third running back on the depth chart for the Saints.
He'd be a much younger Westbrook, but also could make his mark on special teams as well with his ability to return kicks. He'd be also a valuable receiver out of the backfield as well.
Whether it's free agency or trade the 49ers do need depth at the running back position. There are some interesting free agents still out there and if free agency isn't the answer, the 49ers certainly could make a trade to bring in a capable backup for Frank Gore.