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Westbrook Values New Opportunity


It was a challenging decision, but for Brian Westbrook, it was the right one to make.

That's why the veteran running back looked at peace in unfamiliar territory – his first press conference as a member of any NFL team not named the Philadelphia Eagles.

After a brief introduction from head coach Mike Singletary, Westbrook settled in to his new surroundings at 49ers team headquarters and explained just what led him to sign a one-year contract with the 49ers on Monday.

"My concern throughout the (free agency) process was going to a winning team, coached by a man who I respect and a team that had a winning tradition of players," the two-time Pro Bowler said. "I think I found all those things here in San Francisco. It was a long process, but in the end, I think it turned out well for me."

Although he was in new territory, on the other side of the country, Westbrook calmly approached the press conference podium with the same confidence that has allowed him to be one of the most productive running backs in the league over the past decade.

Confidently wearing his new 49ers sideline gear, Westbrook looked the part to begin with and later fielded questions about the actual part he will play with the 49ers – the No. 2 running back.

Westbrook said at this stage of his career he has no problem playing backup to a great running back like Frank Gore. He doesn't have to be "the man" anymore – wins come first, not rushing titles.

Having been a part of several successful Eagles teams, the do-it-all running back knows what playoff-caliber teams look like. Westbrook felt like the 49ers fit that identity perfectly.

"It's a hard-nosed team, a tough, physical team."

Westbrook was clearly excited to join an up-and-coming team like the 49ers, but was also pleased to be playing with a talented group of running backs which includes Gore and rookie Anthony Dixon. Though Westbrook and Gore only know each other from Pro Bowl appearances, Westbrook said he has been a student of Gore's game for some time, often watching his ability to break tackles and successfully run power and trap plays.

Westbrook said he appreciates Gore's talents and is ready to begin working with him as soon as they step on the practice fields this week.

"Frank is the man, he's done tremendous things in the past," Westbrook said. "I'm going to push him as much as I can. He'll be the starter, but I'll be pushing him."

Westbrook still considers himself an every-down back in the NFL, but he will likely sub in to spell Gore through the course of a game. But Singletary noted that it's possible to see both No. 21 and No. 20 (Westbrook's new uniform number) on the field at the same time this season.


Having Westbrook around isn't only about establishing a one-two punch in the backfield, it goes along with the standards Singletary and the 49ers have established in free agency acquisitions.

"He really adds a lot of value in terms of leadership, experience and having been a part of good football teams," Singletary noted. "That brings a lot to our football team."

If Westbrook's words didn't say it, his demeanor certainly did. The new running back appeared to be ready for what's to come, a chance to win his first Super Bowl title in his NFL career.

"I think we'll be a talented offense for teams to stop… I'm ready to perform."

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