Post by Bornthrilla on Nov 18, 2004 10:38:24 GMT -5
49ers: Hicks could get more playing time
Niners' head coach Dennis Erickson said Monday that he won't hesitate to use backup running back Maurice Hicks for longer stretches if he gives the team a spark, even if that means keeping Kevan Barlow on the bench.
"Kevan knows what his role is," Erickson told the Mercury News on Monday. "His role is that he is our starting running back. When he gets tired, he comes out of the game and the other guy goes in. If the other guy gets something going, he's going to stay in the game a little bit. That's simply what it is."
Hicks was recently activated from the practice squad and replaced Barlow for the final 14 minutes of the week 10 game against the Panthers.
Erickson called up Hicks from the practice squad to serve as a change of pace back. Barlow will continue to start, but it appears Erickson is trying to motivate him by bringing in another back. We don't think Hicks will take as many carries away from Barlow as Garrison Hearst did in previous seasons, but we'll certainly be keeping an eye on this situation in the coming weeks.
Former A&T running back Maurice Hicks got his first chance to carry a ball in a NFL game last Sunday and displayed flashes of the incredible ability that once wowed Aggie fans.
Hicks, who was activated from the San Francisco 49ers practice squad three weeks ago and had been used primarily as a kick returner, came off the bench in the third quarter of the Niners’ 37-27 loss to Carolina and rushed for 46 yards on only eight carries. He played a significant role in San Francisco’s final scoring drive, in which he broke a breath-taking 35 yard run down the right sideline and then later made a crushing block on a blitzing Panther linebacker that allowed the Niners' quarterback enough time to complete a 30 yard touchdown pass.
However, Hicks’ impact wasn’t just limited to the running game. He also had a 12-yard reception that gained a key first down and was one of the San Fransico’s top special teams contributors, compiling 103 yards on kickoffs returns (his longest went for 35 yards) and two tackles.
After the game, San Francisco head coach Dennis Erickson lauded Hicks’ strong performance against Carolina and hinted that he may begin to increase Hicks’ workload in upcoming weeks. However Erickson also tried to downplay any brewing controversy involving Hicks and starting running back Kevin Barlow. Barlow only had 47 yards rushing on 21 carries and was benched in the third quarter after getting whistled for a bonehead personal foul.
“What happened in that game is that number one, when he came out of that game, Maurice (Hicks) was playing pretty well and obviously he (Hicks) did because when he went in, he made a huge run and he kind of had things going at that time, so we left him in the football game,” Erickson said. “I mean, Kevan knows what his role is. His role is that he is our starting running back. When he gets tired, he comes out of the game and the other guy goes in. If the other guy gets some things going, he’s going to stay in the game a little bit.”
Still, legions of 49ers fans began to flood Internet message boards and radio call-in shows this week, demanding that Hicks be given more playing time at the running back position to showcase what he can do.This Sunday the Niners travel to Tampa Bay to face the 3-6 Buccaneers at 1:00 EST.
Despite playing only two seasons at North Carolina A&T (2000-2001), Hicks finished his career as the Aggies’ all-time leading rusher with 2,812 yards. He also set the all-time NCAA single-game rushing record with a 437-yard effort against Morgan State in 2001. During his senior year, Hicks was among the nation’s leading rushers and a candidate to win the Walter Payton award, but his career was unfortunately cut short when he tore his ACL during the eighth week of the season. He was originally signed as a free agent by the Chicago Bears in 2002, but after spending a year on IR to nurse his knee injury and then allocated to NFL Europe the following summer, Hicks was released after Chicago's training camp in 2003.
Last season Hicks was signed by the 49ers late in the year and again sent to NFL Europe. This summer he was engaged in close battle for a 49ers roster spot before eventually losing out on the final cut. However, Hicks had made a strong impression with the Niner coaching staff during camp and was immediately signed back to the practice squad only days later.