The 49ers gave Brian Westbrook a job when no one else really wanted him, but so far this season they have not found a place for him in the offense. Maybe that will change with new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson but maybe Westbrook's value to the team is more on the trade market than on the field.
At the beginning of the offseason, the 49ers had three running backs on the roster: Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon, and Glen Coffee. Dixon was an unknown commodity and there were concerns about Coffee and his ability to be a reliable back-up (he only averaged 2.7 yards per carry while filling in for Gore last year). Coffee retires and they bring in Westbrook as a security blanket.
During the preseason, Anthony Dixon looked like a capable backup and maybe it is time to capitalize on a weak running back market and a rash of RB injuries. There are a number of teams who could use some help at running back.
Here are a few:
Green Bay Packers: Brandon Jackson was never able to beat out Ryan Grant for the starting RB job. Now that Grant is out he is struggling to beat out John Kuhn.
Detroit Lions: Jahvid Best has turf toe which will be a nagging injury and Kevin Smith is still getting over his knee injury.
St. Louis Rams: Trading a player inside the division could be tricky especially when you still have to play them twice. The Rams would have to offer more than any other team to get Westbrook, but they need someone to fill in until Steven Jackson is back.
New England Patriots: The Patriots just signed Thomas Clayton, a former 49ers castoff, so they obviously need some running back depth.
The Niners may not be able to get much for Westbrook, but if they could pick up an extra draft pick in 2011 he could be more valuable that the three carries in three games that San Francisco has gotten from him so far in 2010.
The Niners need to be progressive and make the rare in-season trade. That or find a way to get Westbrook involved in the offense.