Robertson gives Niners reason to think twice

Jamal Robertson was going to be one of those nice young prospects the 49ers took a long look at during the summer before sending away on the final roster cutdown. But now they're thinking twice after the way Robertson made defenders miss the past two weeks to come away as the NFC's leading preseason rusher. "He's certainly going to make us have some lengthy discussions that we probably weren't anticipating having," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said.

Robertson displayed an uncanny ability to slip through holes and maneuver in the open field while also showing some impressive power and a low center of gravity with his 5-foot-10, 210-pound frame during Wednesday's 27-3 rout of San Diego in San Francisco's final preseason game.

Robertson slipped and slid and twisted and turned for 112 yards on 21 carries - the best single-game performance by a running back in the NFL this preseason. That allowed him to finish as the NFC's preseason rushing champion with 191 yards on 40 carries, an impressive 4.8 per carry.

"I didn't surprise myself," said Robertson, who recently finished a standout season in NFL Europe in which he was named the league's offensive MVP. "I've been running the ball hard for years. It's just getting an opportunity. I was just trying to take advantage of the opportunity every time I got the ball. This is the NFL. If you can get 100 yards in the NFL, that's a big deal. At least, it is to me."

But it guarantees Robertson nothing with the Niners. He is likely to be released in a numbers game by the time San Francisco pares its roster down to 53 players by 1 p.m. Sunday. That decision could come as soon as Saturday morning.

The Niners don't need a sixth running back this season, not with Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow at tailback, Fred Beasley and Paul Smith at fullback and versatile Terry Jackson backing up both positions. If he doesn't make the team, the Niners would like to sign Robertson back to their practice squad. But his performance Wednesday may convince another team to sign him if he's released by the Niners.

"I don't worry about things like that," Robertson said. "I'll let the Lord worry about that for me."

One way or another, the Niners aren't worrying. If they cut a prospect such as Robertson, it says a lot for their depth at running back and their roster in general. But they'd love to have this guy working on their practice squad, no doubt.


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