Fred Beasley: 'I knew it was time to go'
The 49ers made that pretty clear to Beasley and everyone else throughout the 2005 season, when Beasley got into a well-publicized war of words with running backs coach Bishop Harris during the season and quickly fell out of favor with first-year head coach Mike Nolan. Beasley – who built a reputation as one of the NFL's top true fullbacks while earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2003 – quickly became an afterthought in the San Francisco offense and eventually lost his starting job to journeyman Chris Hetherington during the second half of the season. After an injury made him inactive during Weeks 11-13, Beasley returned and was in uniform for Weeks 14-17. But Beasley sat and stewed on the sidelines – and ultimately voiced his displeasure to reporters – and did not play one single snap in any of those four games. It was a sorry way to go out for one of the team's top players of the past decade. San Francisco's sixth-round draft pick in 1998, Beasley moved into the starting lineup the next season, when he averaged 4.8 yards a carry while gaining a career-high 276 yards and recording a career-high 32 receptions. Beasley's carries and receptions decreased each season as his role in the offense changed and he became more of a blocking fullback who paved the way for tailbacks Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow. But he was underused and undervalued last season. Playing in nine games with seven starts, Beasley was never handed the football once. His statistics for his final season in San Francisco: Zero carries, two catches for 12 yards, and a lot of hard feelings. "I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but the last three years it's just been real difficult," Beasley said. "Different offensive coordinators, they bring in their own little thing and we were like a missing link in the offense as far as the fullback. It ain't that I couldn't do the job, I wasn't allowed to get my hands on the ball like I want to. Which I don't ask for that much, but every now and then throw me a bone, you know." Beasley's hoping to get those opportunities again in Miami, where he is getting a chance to compete for a starting role at fullback again. "I see that in this offense, I'm looking forward to it, for Sundays, and just show that, hey, I can still do this," Beasley said. "Age and how many years in the league don't even matter. I can still bring a lot to an offense." Beasley takes a lot of pride in his blocking, but he also likes to get his hands on the ball from time to time. He did that quite a bit early in his NFL career, but after his final two seasons with the 49ers (a combined nine carries for 15 yards and 12 receptions for 56 yards), Beasley wants to get more active in the overall offensive scheme again. That's probably the biggest reason he chose to sign with the Dolphins after the 49ers allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Beasley wasn't going to return to the 49ers, but the decision to come to Miami was made easier after a conversation with new offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. "Coming here, talking to Mularkey, I just fell in love," Beasley said. "He said he loves the fullback, he loves the tight end and we love to run the ball. He was saying the right words and that's what I wanted to hear." Beasley, who signed a one-year contract in late March, says he has been practicing as the starter, ahead of incumbent Darian Barnes. Barnes, signed midway through last season, is purely a blocking specialist. That's where Beasley may have the advantage, considering that he's no chump as a blocker himself. Beasley played both tailback and fullback at Auburn, and – as he displayed during most of his eight-year career with the 49ers – he can be a weapon out of the backfield. He had a career-high six touchdowns in 2000 – three on the ground and three coming on receptions. Beasley is looking forward to leading the way for another Auburn alum, tailback Ronnie Brown, one of the NFL's top rookie rushers last season. He's also excited about playing with new Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper, whom Beasley called an "icon." Most of all, Beasley is excited about the opportunity to get a fresh start. "Like I said, I've just been in bad situations with the 49ers," Beasley said. "They're just going in different routes; sometimes they include the fullback, more times they exclude the fullback. About the only time I do want to be taken advantage of is on the field, and I wasn't. "I knew it was time to go. A change is always good. I feel like a rookie again, a new guy to this league, just being here. And it makes you appreciate the game even more and work harder just to re-establish your foundation that I kind of created when I first came into the league in '98." That foundation – like a lot of things with the 49ers of recent seasons – has been torn down, and now is a part of a new building project elsewhere in the NFL.
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