More Beasley could be better for 49ers

The 49ers offense seems to work better when fullback Fred Beasley is on the field. Though coach Dennis Erickson's offensive approach prefers more use of two-tight end and three-receiver sets, the Niners' running game is at its best when Beasley is in the game to lead block, and running is what San Francisco has done best so far, and could be the element the team needs to ride to have success down the stretch.

Since having Beasley on the field is practically an indicator the 49ers plan to run, they could start using him in different ways - and getting him the ball - to confuse opposing defenses as they attempt to position themselves back in the playoff chase.

The 49ers talked a lot about an expanded role for Beasley prior to the season, but none of it really materialized during the first half of the season.

In the first eight games, Beasley was used primarily as a lead blocker. He caught just six passes for 45 yards, and carried just eight times for three yards.

But Beasley received a lot more action in the 49ers 30-10 victory over the Rams last week. He caught a team-high three passes for 46 yards and his one rushing attempt netted 5 yards and a first down on a third-down play.

"We gave him a little candy on a short-yardage play," Erickson said. "Everybody knew he could run. He caught the ball and blocked."

Erickson said there is a chance that Beasley could see a little time at tight end or at the H-back position in the second half of the season. On the games first play against the Rams, No. 2 tight end Aaron Walker sustained a concussion and missed the remainder of the game.

"What is going to happen if this happens again?" Erickson asked. "Do we have to throw everything in that plan or are we going to make sure Fred can play that position without motion? That is something we are going to have to talk about."

But even while being used differently, Beasley still was tremendous as a blocker against the Rams, paving the way for tailbacks Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow to rush for a combined 156 yards on 31 carries.

Keeping Beasley on the field and using him in a more versatile manner - as they did against the Rams - could be a strategy that gets San Francisco's offense ticking in a more efficient manner down the stretch.


--- WR Tai Streets is having a solid season in his contract year. Though not seeing near the number of passes come his way as Terrell Owens, Streets has caught 32 balls for 405 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns.

--- RB Garrison Hearst is putting together a solid season. He is averaging 4.6 yards a carry, rushing 130 times for 595 yards. He ranks 11th in the league in rushing, but has fewer carries than anyone who has at least 575 yards rushing. Hearst also leads the 49ers with 33 first downs. Hearst has strengthened his hold on the 49ers starting running back job.

--- RB Kevan Barlow has failed in his attempt to wrestle the starting job away from incumbent Hearst. Barlow is improving but has still been spotty in his role in pass protection. For the season, he has gained 427 yards on 98 carries. But he has also fumbled in the 49ers last two games.

--- CB Ahmed Plummer is tied for third in the NFC with four interceptions. Plummer recorded a career-high seven interceptions in 2001.

--- WR/KR Cedrick Wilson, whose previous long kickoff return was 37 yards, broken free for a 95-yard return for a touchdown to open the game against the Rams. It was the 49ers first kickoff return for a touchdown in the regular season since Terry Kirby went 101 yards for a score on Nov. 16, 1997, against the Panthers.

--- LB Julian Peterson, in addition to being the team's best defensive player, asked to help out on special teams last week. Peterson was added to the kickoff-return team as a blocker. He threw a couple blocks to help spring Wilson on his 95-yard return.

--- WR Brandon Lloyd looks to be earning more playing time for himself in the second half of the season. Lloyd made a remarkable 27-yard diving TD reception in the 49ers victory over the Rams. "I knew the offense when I came here," said Lloyd, who ran a version of the "West Coast Offense" at Illinois. "It's just a matter of learning how to get open at this level. I've benefited a lot from being behind three guys like (Terrell Owens, Tai Streets and Cedrick Wilson)."

--- LG Kyle Kosier, who started seven of the team's first nine games, will probably be back in the starting lineup for a while. Kosier replaced guard Eric Heitmann in the first half vs. the Rams after Heitmann sustained a high left ankle sprain. Kosier started the first two games of the season in place of Scott Gragg, before moving into Heitmann's position at left guard after he went down with the first of his ankle injuries.

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