Brian Westbrook was one of the smartest players Andy Reid ever coached with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles head man said as much earlier in the week when speaking in a conference call with the Bay Area media.
Westbrook spent eight seasons with Reid and is the Eagles all-time leader in yards from scrimmage (9,875). But for all he’s accomplished, Westbrook has yet to make his mark with his new team.
Through four games with the 49ers, Westbrook has one carry for no gain and two catches for six yards. Needless to say, it’s been tough on the 5-foot-10, 203-pound versatile running back.
“The last four weeks I felt I had an opportunity to help this team but it really hasn’t happened for me,” Westbrook said on Friday. “It’s definitely frustrating. As a player you always want to play and help the team.”
But things could soon change. New offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said earlier Westbrook would be more involved against Philadelphia, especially with mismatch creating tight end Delanie Walker ruled out with an ankle sprain.
“Brian’s been a very good player in this league for a long time and we are going to try to utilize his talents and try to get him involved in some way here pretty soon,” Johnson said.
It’s the perfect time for the nine-year veteran to make an impact, just in time to play the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to see those guys, play against those guys. But, for me, I want the opportunity to play, no matter who it’s against. I just want to help the team win, that’s been my goal since I’ve been here.”
Westbrook said he frequently speaks with former teammate and Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb, but didn’t ask about the emotions involved with playing their former team. McNabb visited Lincoln Financial Field for the first time as an opponent last week.
“I didn’t ask him about that, but I had a feeling of how he felt… For me it’s different because you’re not playing in Philly.”
Westbrook’s lack of involvement early on in the 49ers offense has been a disappointment to him, but he understands his playing time comes at the cost of losing Frank Gore.
“Frank’s a great running back, he’s done so many things to help this team win. It’s hard to take him off the field because he’s so explosive with the ball in his hands. You kind of understand that, but you know there are spots you can get in the game and you try to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Westbrook is hopeful to get more of those opportunities against players he frequently competed against in practice .
But his familiarity with Sunday night’s opponent is not changing his mentality. That stays the same, whether he’s scheduled to start or come off the bench.
“I prepare just like I’m going to play and hopefully at some point, I get an opportunity.
“I’ve been playing in the league for a long time and have made a lot of different plays. I know I can still do those things. Hopefully this will be the week where I get some chances to open the eyes of some people.”
If all goes to Westbrook’s plan, he’ll re-open the eyes of two fan bases at the same time.
For more on this week’s game, watch Westbrook’s locker room interview, our Weekly Conversation with this week’s guest Mike Johnson, 49ers Focus videos from Wednesday and Thursday, as well as all the headlines from Week 5.
Also, don’t miss out on the premiere of our new kids-only show, 49ers Total Access For Kids. It premieres this Saturday at 8:30 a.m. PT on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and again at 2:30 p.m. PT on KTVU. Visit the Kids Section of 49ers.com for more info.
And lastly, don’t forget to wear red on Sunday night as Candlestick will be undergoing a “Red Out” for the 49ers-Eagles game.
Tags: Brian Westbrook, Mike Johnson
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