‘An­gry’ Gar­con back to face for­mer team

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

ASHBURN | In Ma­son Foster’s Oct. 4, 2015, de­but with the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, the line­backer saw first­hand why Pierre Gar­con has a rep­u­ta­tion as a fierce com­peti­tor.

With 31 sec­onds left at the Philadel­phia Ea­gles’ 4-yard line, Gar­con hauled in a go-ahead Kirk Cousins touch­down pass de­spite a hel­la­cious hit from cor­ner­back Eric Rowe. Gar­con popped back up im­me­di­ately to cel­e­brate with his team­mates, slap­ping the hel­mets of the of­fen­sive line­men around him. The Red­skins won 23-20.

“You hear sto­ries and see him on TV grow­ing up,” Foster said. “But when you see him make that catch in the end of the game, he’s the real deal.”

Foster and the rest of the Red­skins get an­other up­close look at Gar­con’s in­ten­sity — this time in a 49ers uni­form — on Sun­day.

Gar­con, 31, signed a five-year, $47.5 mil­lion con­tract with San Fran­cisco in March af­ter five years with the Red­skins. Those who know him ex­pect the vet­eran to be fired up against his old team.

“I think Pierre plays at his best when he is a lit­tle — a lit­tle more an­gry,” 49ers coach Kyle Shana­han said. “He re­ally gets to that spot, re­ally ev­ery week. ... That’s one of the rea­sons I’ve al­ways loved Pierre and re­ally wanted him to be a Niner.”

The Red­skins elected to not

re-sign last year’s start­ing wide­outs, Gar­con and DeSean Jack­son, bring­ing in Ter­relle Pryor and count­ing on a jump from Josh Doct­son in­stead. The moves were seen by some as con­tro­ver­sial.

In Au­gust, for­mer Red­skins gen­eral man­ager Scot McCloughan said on a pod­cast that he would have never let Gar­con go if he were still call­ing the shots in Wash­ing­ton. He said Gar­con was “highly, highly re­spected” in the Red­skins locker room.

Now Gar­con is reunited with Shana­han, who was his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor with the Red­skins from 2010-2013. Af­ter be­ing hired by San Fran­cisco in Fe­bru­ary, Shana­han made it a pri­or­ity to go af­ter Gar­con — viewed by the 49ers’ brass as one of the top wide re­ceivers in free agency.

The pair­ing has been a suc­cess through five weeks. Gar­con has 28 re­cep­tions for 379 yards. He also leads the team with 44 tar­gets.

In Wash­ing­ton, Gar­con was a re­li­able pos­ses­sion re­ceiver. Af­ter sign­ing a five-year, $42.5 mil­lion deal to join Wash­ing­ton in 2012, he be­came the rare Red­skins free agent ac­quis­tion who lived up to his con­tract.

Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den noted Gar­con’s phys­i­cal­ity and abil­ity to pro­duce yards af­ter the catch.

And like Shana­han, Gru­den said Gar­con has a knack for play­ing an­gry.

“He was an­gry at me the whole time he was here,” Gru­den said, laugh­ing. “I think that’s what peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate about him — when you com­pete with him or against him — you see the anger that he plays with on tape. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing for wide re­ceivers.”

Off the field, Foster de­scribed Gar­con as the op­po­site. Gar­con, Foster said, was the type to lead by ex­am­ple — es­pe­cially when it came to men­tor­ing the Red­skins’ Jami­son Crow­der, Ryan Grant and Josh Doct­son.

Foster said Gar­con was re­served and then amped up for game day.

“I think most guys are like that, but him, it was dras­tic,” Foster said.

Cor­ner­back Bashaud Bree­land is look­ing for­ward to fac­ing Gar­con on Sun­day. He said he never saw Gar­con’s anger in prac­tice, but said “it’ll be fun to get to see that.”

“It’s go­ing to be an ex­cit­ing test,” Bree­land said. “He’s made good plays on the ball and he runs his routes hard. It’s go­ing to be a good task.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Af­ter the Red­skins elected not to re-sign him this off­sea­son, re­ceiver Pierre Gar­con signed a five-year deal con­tract with the 49ers.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Re­ceiver Pierre Gar­con has been reunited with his for­mer Wash­ing­ton Red­skins of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kyle Shana­han, who is now the head coach of the San Fran­cisco 49ers. Shana­han and Gar­con face their for­mer team on Sun­day.

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