Coffee Energizes 49ers, Backfield Duo Could Contend for NFL's Best

Jason Figueiredo@sportschatterCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 14: Running back Glen Coffee #29 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball against the Denver Broncos during a preseason game on August 14, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

You don’t want to get in my way in the morning if I haven’t had any caffeine.  It can be an ugly sight.

Like most people, waking up with a cup of Joe gives me that extra boost to get through the day…well, at least through the morning. 

Glen Coffee can hopefully do the same for the San Francisco 49ers.

Coffee’s pre-season performances has got me thinking that his caffeinated play could be the extra boost the 49ers need to capture a playoff berth. 

In his two preseason games (I know…), Coffee has exploded.  He has quickly made a name for himself, having very good games against both the Denver and Oakland defenses (again…I know).

He started off a tad slowly versus Denver, only posting 67 yards, but Saturday night against the Raiders he added another 127 yards, looking like a very determined running back.

If Coffee can continue this performance on a weekly basis alongside Frank Gore, the 49ers may have a backfield that could potentially mimic the two-headed rushing monster that the Carolina Panthers put on the field last year.

In 2008, Carolina ranked third in the league with 2,737 rushing yards and led the league with 30 rushing touchdowns.

This is thanks to the hard work of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.  They racked up 1,515 and 836 yards respectively, with Williams only averaging 1.5 carries per game more than Stewart. 

Making a comparison between DeAngelo and Gore isn’t that far-fetched.

They are both bruising running backs who are not afraid to lower a shoulder and run through a guy.  While they both averaged 17.1 carries per game in 2008, Gore gained a significantly lower amount of yards than Williams. 

This dip in yards may be a warning flag for some, but it is hard to forget the 1,695 yards Gore gained three years ago and the fact that he has surpassed at least 1,000 yards the past three seasons. 

Making a comparison between Coffee and Stewart…well, may not be as “Haight and Ashbury” as most might think.

Both players started their collegiate career in 2005 and saw limited time as freshmen.  Facing furious defenses in the SEC and Pac-10, Coffee would only average 3.7 yards per carry at Alabama and Stewart only 3.5 at Oregon. 

A foot injury would force Coffee to redshirt in 2006 but Stewart went on to gain 901 yards in 183 carries in his second year, turning heads and quickly climbing the ranks of mock drafts everywhere. 

An amazing 1,722 rushing yards in his junior season pushed his overall yards per carry to 5.6 and helped him land a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Coming back from his injury in 2007, Coffee had to make adaptations and share time in Nick Saban’s new offense.  He would only muster 129 carries and 545 yards in his sophomore season. 

The following year, Coffee would win the starting position out right and breakout into an incredible 1,383-rushing yard season.

Glen’s overall yards per carry would cap out at a very impressive 5.1 but he wouldn’t be taken in the 2009 NFL Draft until the third round, due to questions about his strength and speed. 

Coffee has shown that he does have the speed to turn the corner and the strength to push for that extra yard in both games this pre-season, taking the first steps to proving his doubters wrong.

Leaning on a one-two punch running game could be a more plausible wish for Niners fans than that of seeing a vastly improved passing offense, especially early in the season.

If this two-headed beast can truly pan out for the 49ers, it will definitely release some of the pressure on whoever is taking the snaps.

Carolina’s 2008 passing offense was hardly mind-blowing but still saw post-season action.    The Panthers ranked 19th in passing yards with 197.4 yards per game and sank to dead last in pass attempts, averaging a tiny 25.9 tries per game. 

The 49ers offense last year ranked much better than that, and either Shaun Hill or Alex Smith should be capable of attaining the same type of numbers this season. 

Carolina made the playoffs in 2008 because of their running game, and if Coffee can turn heads in 2009, the 49ers could quite possibly do the same.   

Beware to all who, like myself, couldn’t resist devouring this grande size of pre-season Coffee…all caffeine drinks tend to eventually come with a hard crash, so you may want to think twice before you take a sip.  

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