NEW YORK (Aug. 20, 2006) -- The New York Jets acquired running back Kevan Barlow from the San Francisco 49ers for an undisclosed draft pick in 2007, their second attempt in a week to shore up the position.
The deal is contingent on Barlow passing a physical.
on Aug. 14, the Jets traded for Browns running back Lee Suggs, hoping to get help with Curtis Martin out. But Suggs failed his physical and the deal was voided. The Jets are in desperate need of help at running back. Martin has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since training camp opened with a lingering knee injury.
Though the 33-year-old Martin hopes to play again, his future is uncertain. The Jets have refused to disclose when Martin could return. Without him, the Jets have relied on Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston and rookie Leon Washington. The three played well in their preseason game against Washington.
Blaylock ran for 46 yards on 10 carries, while Houston had 53 yards on 14 carries.
"We have been impressed with Kevan's production in both the running and passing game," Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "We feel Kevan will complement our running back group, and he will come in and compete for playing time."
The 6-foot-1, 234-pound Barlow has 3,614 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career.
"This is a great opportunity for Kevan because of New York's need at running back," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "Kevan has been committed to our program and done well. With the depth at running back we felt we could make this move."
Martin, the NFL's fourth all-time leading rusher, underwent surgery on his right knee in December. He has yet to practice, and reports have said he has a "bone on bone" condition in his knee.
Still, Martin has been an ironman his entire career, known as much for his running as his ability to play through pain. When he went out last season, he broke a string of 119 consecutive regular-season starts and ended his streak of 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons to start a career, a record he shares with Barry Sanders.
Barlow's departure officially hands the 49ers' starting job to second-year running back Frank Gore, who already was well on his way to winning it outright. Gore, San Francisco's leading rusher last year with 608 yards, seemed to be trouncing the sixth-year pro in training-camp competition.
Barlow was the 49ers' third-round pick in 2001, and he shared playing time with Garrison Hearst for three moderately successful seasons. He gained a career-best 1,024 yards in 2003 and seemed poised to become a topflight running back.
He became the full-time starter after Hearst's departure in 2004, but seemed unsuited for the pressure and workload. Running skittishly behind San Francisco's terrible offensive line during a 2-14 season, Barlow managed 822 yards -- just 3.4 yards per carry, two-thirds of his 2003 average -- and complained about his lack of support.
Barlow's running style can be hesitant when the former Pitt star doesn't feel confident -- and his temperament also has been questioned several times in his career.
Most notably, he had a long-running feud with fullback Fred Beasley, nearly coming to blows with his top blocker during a meeting because he apparently felt Beasley favored Hearst, the fullback's best friend. Barlow even moved his locker across the 49ers' training complex to a spot among the defensive backs, though he moved back when the players quashed their feud last season.
Barlow had another dismal year in 2005, managing just 581 yards with a career-low 3.3 yards per carry -- 1.5 yards fewer than Gore -- while running behind an injury-plagued line for the NFL's worst offense. Gore even overtook Barlow for the club lead in yards rushing late in the season while Barlow nursed an injury.
When Nolan confirmed rumors of the Jets' discussions with San Francisco last week, Barlow claimed he wasn't worried about losing his job to Gore -- but he was heard singing along to "New York, New York" on his iPod a few days later.