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Bay Area mainstay

Garner leaves 49ers for four-year deal with Raiders

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Posted: Friday April 13, 2001 7:44 PM

  Charlie Garner After averaging less than 600 yards per season with the Eagles, Charlie Garner rushed for 2,371 yards in two seasons with the Niners. Tom Hauck/Allsport

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Charlie Garner, the free-agent running back who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards the past two seasons, signed a four-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Friday.

Garner, an eight-year veteran who spent the last two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, had been courted by several other teams, including the Carolina Panthers and the Kansas City Chiefs, according to his agent, Scott Crawford.

But the 5-foot-9, 187-pound Pro Bowl selection was wooed to the Raiders by coach Jon Gruden, who worked with Garner when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles. Garner also liked the idea of staying in the San Francisco Bay area.

"I'm a guy who believes in stability," Garner said. "And knowing where you stand, and that you're in a situation where you are wanted, that helps out."

Garner rushed 258 times for 1,142 yards last season, his second straight season with 1,000 or more rushing yards. He also ran for a career-high seven touchdowns.

Garner will join Oakland's top rusher, Tyrone Wheatley, and a group of talented backs the team referred to last season as "The Committee."

 

Anchored by Wheatley, Napoleon Kaufman and scrambling quarterback Rich Gannon, the Raiders ran for 2,470 yards last season, nearly 1,000 more yards that their opponents.

Room was made for Garner with the departure of Kaufman, who retired earlier this week to devote more time to his family and ministry. Kaufman was due to make $2.5 million for the coming season.

Financial terms of Garner's deal with the Raiders were not released.

The 49ers, meanwhile, were strapped by the salary cap. Crawford reportedly had sent the 49ers an eight-year, $30 million contract offer that 49ers general manager Bill Walsh said the team was forced to "reject out of hand."

Garner holds no ill will.

"Obviously, I've had two Pro Bowl-caliber years with the 49ers, so that's helped me tremendously," he said.

Gruden, who was offensive coordinator with the Eagles before taking over the Raiders, said he was excited about working once again with Garner, who played five seasons in Philadelphia.

Gruden called Garner productive, versatile and tough. He will complement Wheatley, Zack Crockett, Randy Jordan and veteran Terry Kirby, a late addition to the Raiders last season who helped them get to the AFC championship game. Kirby, also a former 49er, was re-signed by the Raiders last month.

"We like the group of backs we have tremendously," Gruden said. "It's one of our strengths."


 
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