Frank Gore suffers fractured hip, is done for the season

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (C) finds the hole and runs for a first down in the first quarter of the 49ers game against the Arizona Cardinals San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ November 29,2010. UPI/Art Foxall Photo via Newscom

The 49ers better hope that Brian Westbrook has found the fountain of youth because their chances of making the playoffs just took a major hit.

NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that Frank Gore will miss the remainder of the season with a fractured right hip. He suffered the injury in the first half of the Niners’ 27-6 victory over the Cardinals on Monday night, although what’s interesting is that he returned to the game after initially heading to the locker room for treatment. He did not receive X-rays during that time, however, and he eventually carried the ball once more before leaving the game for good.

While the team has yet to make an official announcement on his timetable to return, it’s probably safe to assume that his season is over. Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon will now split carries in the Niners’ backfield.

It came against the Cardinals’ shoddy front seven, but Westbrook looked great on Monday night. He rushed for a season-high 136 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown and showed some of the cutting ability that made him popular in Philadelphia. Considering how well he ran, it makes you wonder why Mike Singletary and his coaching staff didn’t get him more involved until now. (He had just five carries coming into the game.)

With the win, the 49ers find themselves back in contention in the worst division in football. And seeing as how they play the Rams and Seahawks (two teams with one more win than San Fran) in December, it’s not unrealistic to think that Troy Smith and Co. can win the NFC West. But losing Gore was a major blow and it puts even more emphasis on Smith getting up to speed with the offense so that the Niners can open things up in the passing game.

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Westbrook to re-unite with McNabb in D.C.?

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports via his Twitter page that Brian Westbrook has a scheduled visit with the Redskins on Wednesday. As Mort notes, the Skins already have Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, Christian Okoye, Bam Morris, Jamal Anderson and the ghost of Red Grange on their roster.

The Packers and Rams are the only two teams besides the Redskins to have shown serious interest in Westbrook. Green Bay wants to upgrade the running back position behind Ryan Grant, but has yet to bring Westbrook in for a physical. St. Louis, meanwhile, did bring the veteran running back in for a physical (which he passed), but has yet to draw up a contract.

It is believed that Westbrook’s concussion problems are a thing of the past, but his left knee and arthritic ankle still provide roadblocks for him landing a new deal. The Packers and Rams’ hesitation to sign him may be an indication that teams will pass on the 30-year-old in light of his durability concerns.

Outside of re-uniting with McNabb, Westbrook makes very little sense for the Redskins. They already have a crowded backfield and who’s to say that he’d be an upgrade over Portis, Johnson or Parker anyway? We all know Mike Shanahan loves the running back-by-committee approach, but I don’t see how adding Westy to the mix helps Washington.

Even if he does land with a new team, chances are that Westbrook isn’t long for the league. He almost pursued a career in broadcasting after the Eagles parted ways with him earlier this offseason, and that still might be the best option for him in the end.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Westbrook on Packers’ radar

According to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report, the Green Bay Packers are interested in Brian Westbrook.

Though it’s unclear whether the Packers are serious enough to sign the 30-year-old veteran, two sources said Monday that the club definitely has shown interest. Westbrook became a free agent when the Eagles released him Feb. 23.

If healthy, Westbrook could provide [head coach Mike] McCarthy with the effective third-down back he has lacked in recent years. Brandon Jackson was an outstanding blocker on third downs last year, but he was not a factor as a receiver or runner. Starter Ryan Grant has expressed an interest in playing more on third downs, but Westbrook would handle a large share of that if signed.

If the Packers signed Westbrook, they probably would want it to be a short-term deal with incentives that would pump up the value if he has a good year. Westbrook, however, made $5.85 million last year and was scheduled to make more than $7 million this year before the Eagles cut him. He may be willing to sit out until he gets the deal he wants.

An incentive-laden deal would make a lot of sense. Westbrook is a great fit for the West Coast Offense in that he’s a terrific receiver out of the backfield. Ryan Grant is good between the tackles, but has trouble turning his hips and heading upfield after catching the ball. Westy doesn’t have that problem.

Fantasy-wise, Westbrook’s arrival would certainly limit Grant’s upside, but he wasn’t playing much on third downs anyway. He’d still get most of the first- and second-down carries and all of the goal line work. Westbrook’s presence would boost Aaron Rodgers’ value even more, because when he’s healthy, he’s arguably the most explosive pass-catching RB in the game and is bound to take a few short dump offs to the house.

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Brian Westbrook’s five greatest plays

Now that he’s no longer an Eagle, put together a list of Brian Westbrook’s five greatest plays.

I personally like #2, even though the play cost my fantasy football team win.

2. The game: Dec. 16, 2007, vs. Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium
The setup: The Eagles led, 10-6, with 2:19 left and had the ball on the Dallas 25-yard line.
The play: Westbrook took a handoff and went off right tackle to the 1-yard line, where he took a knee.
What it meant: Dallas was out of timeouts and the Eagles took three kneeldowns to close out the victory.
What he said: “I got a stern talking-to by Jon Runyan right before that play. He said, ‘Listen, if you get down to the 1, take a knee.’ I was like, ‘Ahhh … ‘ He said, ‘Take a knee, Westbrook, take a knee.’ ”

That play was frustrating from a fantasy football point of view, but the right thing to do.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Eagles release Westbrook – will McNabb be jettisoned next?

Just one day after the Chargers parted with legend LaDainian Tomlinson, the Eagles followed suit by releasing one-time franchise running back Brian Westbrook on Tuesday.

The writing has been on the wall for a couple months now. Westbrook only played in eight games last year after dealing with a concussion for most of the season. He was due to make $7.25 million in 2010 and after drafting his eventual replacement (“Shady” McCoy) last year, it was unlikely that the Eagles were going to honor the final year of Westbrook’s contract. He should find work elsewhere, although given his age (30) and durability concerns, he might not get more than a one or two-year contract.

Now that Westbrook has been released, the Eagles might turn their attention to quarterback Donovan McNabb’s situation. McNabb’s base salary in 2010 is $5 million, plus he’s due a $6.2 million roster bonus on May 5. With Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings, it’s rumored that if Philly can acquire a first round pick in exchange for McNabb, they’ll deal him this offseason.

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