On Jacobs' health, and healthy mindset

Brandon Jacobs came to the San Francisco 49ers with an open mind and no expectations.

That was the plan.

"Don't ever expect anything," Jacobs said during a recent interview from training camp. "That is what I've learned about this league."

2011 Giants RBs: YPC by Down

The veteran running back was referring to expectations in relation to a player's role within an offense. As for a player's health, there are no guarantees there, either. That's why Jacobs' joy, voiced here and here on Twitter, was understandable when MRI results showed no significant damage stemming from the knee injury he suffered Saturday night.

Jacobs will presumably miss practice time, preventing him, at least for now, from making a case for an increased role in a crowded backfield. He had been getting work mostly in short-yardage situations.

"When you expect to be used a certain way and you're not used that way, there are a lot of things that can come negative from that," he said. "So I come in this camp with my box wide open expecting them to throw whatever they want to throw my way, and I take it on and accomplish it to the best of my ability."

It sounded like Jacobs, who turned 30 last month, was hitting the career reset button after seven seasons, 4,849 yards rushing and 56 rushing touchdowns for the New York Giants. He had wearied of expectations others had placed on him, specifically that his size (listed at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds) required him to be a one-man wrecking ball, casting aside defenders as if they were toddlers.

Jacobs scored eight total touchdowns in the 2011 regular season. His yards per attempt fell below 4.0 for the second time in the past three seasons. But as the chart from ESPN Stats & Information shows, Jacobs actually had a higher first-down average than teammate Ahmad Bradshaw on a similar number of carries (117 Bradshaw, 106 Jacobs).

Bradshaw's average was higher on second down, when he carried 101 times (71 for Jacobs). The third-down average favored Bradshaw by a wide margin, but a disproportionate number of Jacobs' third-down carries were in short-yardage situations, when defenses knew what was coming.

Jacobs converted a relatively modest 4 of 8 tries on third and fourth downs with a yard to go for a first down. He then converted once in three tries during the postseason while collecting a second Super Bowl ring.

Jacobs said his first two Super Bowl rings went to his children, and that he hopes to win one with the 49ers to share with his wife.

In that regard, Jacobs is going with team expectations instead of individual ones. That seems wise on a team featuring Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and rookie second-round choice LaMichael James in the backfield.

"I don't really see a (specific) role," Jacobs said. "I see a guy being whatever they need. They need me to stick it in there, play hardball, it’s whatever they need. I want to do whatever to help this team win."