Best of the NFC West: Running Backs

Two running backs will be selected to represent the NFC West. Feel free to share your opinion, and don’t forget to vote!

Running Backs

Arizona Cardinals: Tim Hightower

Hightower came out of nowhere in 2008 to become Arizona’s talented, multi-purpose battering ram for their already dynamic offense. At his best near the goal line, Hightower has amassed 18 rushing touchdowns in only two NFL seasons. He has lost carries to other backs on the team, but Hightower remains impressive. Last season, he totaled 1,026 all-purpose yards (598 rushing, 428 receiving) and scored 8 touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals: Beanie Wells

The second-year pro out of Ohio State had a very impressive rookie campaign and will look to find more success as his role continues to expand in Arizona. In his first season, Wells ran for 793 yards and 7 touchdowns on 176 carries. While he struggled at times to hold onto the football, Wells progressed throughout the season and looked strong into the postseason.

San Francisco 49ers: Frank Gore

Gore has consistently been one of the better backs in the NFC since he was drafted in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. In five seasons, Gore has rushed for 5,561 yards (1,112 yards per season on average) and 32 touchdowns. He is a dynamic, all-purpose running back who has been the best offensive player in San Francisco since Terrell Owens left town. And it doesn’t hurt to mention that since 2006, Gore averages 111.75 yards per game against the Seahawks, including two efforts over two hundred yards.

Seattle Seahawks: Justin Forsett

Justin Forsett hasn’t secured a starting spot just yet, but he is probably the most promising and productive back on Seattle’s roster. He’ll likely split carries with a plethora of other backs competing for time, but Forsett will produce when given an opportunity. Last season, despite only starting two games, Forsett rushed for 619 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 114 carries. He also contributed in the passing game, catching 41 balls for 350 yards and a touchdown.

St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson

The St. Louis Rams haven’t won the NFC West since 2003, but Steven Jackson is definitely not to blame for their hardship. Jackson, like Frank Gore, has been one of the better running backs around the league since the Rams drafted him in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Despite playing on a poor Rams team, Jackson has rushed for over one thousand yards every year since his rookie campaign, including 1,416 yards last season. He is also versatile and has shown the ability to contribute in the passing game – in 2006, Jackson caught 90 passes for 806 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Shaun Dolence’s take:

I would love to pick a running back from Seattle here, but I’m going to have to look past my biases for a moment. A backfield featuring Steve Jackson and Frank Gore is only reality for fantasy football players; on the field, this two-headed monster would carve up opposing defenses through the air and on the ground. A tandem of Jackson and Gore immediately gives the NFC West one of the more intimidating backfields in the National Football League.

Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower, Justin Forsett, and other backs around the division are nice. Steven Jackson and Frank Gore, however, are dynamic backs on another level. Either Jackson or Gore alone could carry an entire offense on their back.

Andrew Auger’s take:

I mean, shouldn’t it be obvious for even the casual fan here?

In no particular order, because both bring a different skill set to their knack for carving up defenses, I have to go with Steven Jackson and Frank Gore.

Unlike quarterback, this duo gives the NFC West arguably the best tandem out of any division in the league.

Both are focal points for their respective offenses, and both have good offensive lines paving the way for them. Gore is aided by the recent addition of first rounders Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis. Jackson benefits from being a stud on a crappy team.

I echo Shaun with his take on Forsett and Wells, both are quality starters who are poised for breakout campaigns in 2010.

Neither should be confused for elite status though.

And Hawks fans, doesn’t it just twinge a bit that Steven Jackson was selected directly after their selection of Marcus Tubbs at No. 23?

“wants to kick Bob Whitsitt”


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Tags: Arizona Cardinals Beanie Wells Frank Gore Julius Jones Justin Forsett Leon Washington National Football League NFC West Running Back San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson Tim Hightower

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