sports

[NFL] 49ers sign 10-time Pro Bowler Larry Allen

March 24, 2006 | Posted by J. Yayo Hernandez

NEW YORK (AP) — Larry Allen, a 10-time Pro Bowl guard for the Dallas Cowboys, agreed to a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Friday.

Allen, the last link to the Cowboys’ most recent Super Bowl-winning team, was released Tuesday when he refused to take a pay cut. The 12-year veteran cleared a path for NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith and his teammates while being placed on eight All-Pro teams, including each of his first seven seasons as a starter.

The 49ers outbid several suitors to put the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Allen on a line that improved last season, but still struggled just as much as every other part of the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense.

Running backs Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore struggled for running room last season, but should get a boost from running behind one of the best run-blockers in NFL history. Eric Heitmann, Justin Smiley and David Baas probably will be thrown into competition for the other starting guard spot, unless Heitmann takes over for oft-injured center Jeremy Newberry.

Though some believe Allen’s game has slipped in recent seasons, he was chosen for the Pro Bowl again. He also should provide valuable teaching and leadership for the 49ers’ young offensive linemen.

Allen played two college seasons at Sonoma State, just north of San Francisco, and played for 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner and offensive line coach George Warhop in Dallas.

San Francisco has been fairly quiet in free agency, with receiver Antonio Bryant as its biggest signing before Allen.

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J. Yayo Hernandez

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