Once, Brandon Jacobs was the workhorse running back of the New York Giants, the undisputed No. 1 ballcarrier.
But in 2010, he lost his starting job to Ahmad Bradshaw and never reclaimed it.
Now the big running back will be wearing the uniform of the San Francisco 49ers, and he knows he’ll be the man behind starter Frank Gore.
But Jacobs is just fine with that.
After officially signing a one-year deal with the 49ers Friday, Jacobs spoke with Bay Area reporters about his new team and new role and said he’s looking forward to contributing to a winning team that he believes truly wanted him.
“It’s a good football team and really close,” Jacobs said. “And I felt wanted. I felt they really wanted me around and I was excited about it.”
Jacobs, 29, is entering his eighth year in the NFL and has had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons, in 2007 and 2008. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 264-pounder from Southern Illinois gained 571 yards on 152 carries as a complementary back to Bradshaw, helping the Giants’ late-season surge to the Super Bowl.
Jacobs says he knows Gore – who rushed for 1,211 yards last season – is the team’s No. 1 back, but he’s willing to play any role the 49ers need.
“Whatever is best for the team,” Jacobs told reporters.
The thinking, though, is that Jacobs will give the 49ers an extra dimension with a much bigger back in short-yardage and red-zone situations.
Said Niners GM Trent Baalke in a statement, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group: “He has been productive throughout his career and provides our offense a different dimension. We look forward to incorporating Brandon into our system.”
Jacobs heads into this coming season in almost a similar situation to last year, when he knew Bradshaw was the starter with the Giants.
Last summer, Bradshaw said he was willing to play any role the Giants wanted him to play and, as the season unfolded, the running-back tandem of Bradshaw and Jacobs gave New York a powerful ground game.
“If he (Bradshaw) got it (the starting job), he got it. That doesn’t bother me at all. Just give me what I think I can do,” Jacobs told ESPN last August during the exhibition season. “Just give me a little more carries and let me get out there and play as hard as I can.”
He went into last season saying he’d worked harder than he ever had over the offseason, getting ready to contribute to a team that would eventually win him a second Super Bowl ring.
Now, Jacobs has a one-year, $2 million deal to contribute as part of a backfield that includes Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon on a team that relies on its running game.
How many carries will he get? Will he be the designated runner at the goal line?
For now, Jacobs isn’t worried about that. He’s relishing the chance to play for the team that was his favorite as a kid.
“All that part will work itself out,” he says.