As the San Francisco 49ers walked onto the field to hold practice at Candlestick Park as part of the team’s annual fan fest, the fans were treated to seeing a player make a surprise appearance. More importantly, the offense got a boost as Kendall Hunter was activated from the PUP list.
One of the most noticeable absences from the team’s first depth chart was Hunter not listed in the running back position. While LaMichael James did a find job of filling in as the backup running back after Hunter went down with a torn Achilles tendon last season, Hunter brings qualities which James does not have.
Hunter gives the 49ers is a running back who, like Frank Gore, can run between the tackles, catch the ball out of the backfield, and is a good option down by the goal line. While James is just as capable catching the ball out of the backfield, he is not nearly as adept a runner between the tackles.
Adding a third capable running back to the offense will give offensive coordinator Greg Roman the chance to practice running certain sets with one, two, or even three running backs playing at the same time.
It’s the versatility that Hunter gives the offense which is most exciting. His will give the offense another weapon to rely on and with the loss of Michael Crabtree, there will definitely be a need for players to step up and fill the void in production. After all, prior to his season-ending injury, Hunter was averaging around five yards per carry, and that type of production is always welcomed.
With the team looking to reduce the number of carries for Frank Gore during the season, having quality backups to fill the void and ensure that there is not a drop-off in production is a must for the 49ers. Things were looking good with James in the fold, but now that Kendall Hunter has been activated, the 49ers will now have another player they can count on and who has been a reliable contributor in the past.