After having missed the final third of the 2012 season because of a torn Achilles tendon injury he suffered in a game against the New Orleans Saints, Kendall Hunter was back on the field in a regular season game for the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday in the win over the Green Bay Packers. While Hunter did not have a great game, he showed that he was healthy and back to serve as a regular contributor to the 49ers offense.
Like Frank Gore, Hunter had a hard time being able to run the ball against a Packers defense who clearly paid extra attention to shutting down the 49ers rushing attack last Sunday. Even though Hunter finished with a respectable line of six carries, for 24 rushing yards, most of his runs were for no gain or negative yardage with a 23 yard run in the fourth quarter which helped the 49ers eventually take the lead 31-28. Entering the Week 2 Sunday night showdown against division foe the Seattle Seahawks, Hunter will once again be counted on to contribute and as a result, is an x-factor headed into the game.
In a game where both teams in many ways are mirror images of one another, it is clear that the team who wins the line of scrimmage battle and is able to best and most effectively run the ball will in all likelihood win the game. While Gore is more of a in-between the tackles runner, Hunter is more of a outside the hashmarks runner and as a result, this could make Hunter the more valuable running back as a result of being able to get outside. Therefore, while the Seahawks front seven and in particular their down lineman could in theory have an easier time stopping Gore, Hunter’s speed give him the ability to elude them at the point of attack.
If Frank Gore is able to have success running the ball in between the hashmarks, this makes Hunter even more valuable considering that he can exploit a tired Seahawks defense who just had to deal with the punishing running style of Frank Gore and now have to adjust to a more shift running style can only serve to wear them down further. Add to the fact that LaMichael James could once again be inactive for the 49ers because of a knee injury and Hunter’s ability to be a valuable and important contributor for the 49ers Sunday night only increases.
While Hunter did not have a spectacular game Week 1 against the Packers, this does not diminish the fact that he still had a significant contribution in the win. Now facing the Seahawks in Week 2, Hunter can be an x-factor in the game as his running style serves as a great complement to that of Frank Gore and as a result, he might be able to run for significant yardage, thus helping the 49ers win the battle in the trenches and even be the reason they win if this were to happen Sunday night.