Most of the talk surrounding the San Francisco 49ers‘ approach to the upcoming NFL draft has centered around needs pertaining to the WR and CB positions. While both areas are concerns and will be addressed, the team has 11 picks to work with and can afford itself some luxury selections as well.
On paper, the 49ers look loaded at RB. They have Frank Gore to carry the load and insurance in the form of Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore. However, when examining the position a little more, one could see a need arising there soon. While Gore defied age in 2013, he will be 31 when the season starts and has 2,187 regular season carries on his legs.
Hunter is in the last year of his contract and has never carried the load. James seems to have fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and while Lattimore could be the wildcard of the group, there is no guarantee he can return to 100 percent after two major knee injuries.
Considering the circumstances, it might not be too far-fetched to think the 49ers would be interested in former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde.
At 6-foot-tall and 230 pounds, Hyde is kind of bruising back who would be a good fit behind San Francisco’s mauling offensive line. Despite missing three games due to a suspension in 2013, Hyde still managed to gain 1521 yards on 208 carries (7.3 yards per attempt) and score 16 rushing touchdowns. That production helped him to become the No. 1 RB on most draft boards.
Despite his ranking, Hyde is being looked at as a second-round selection mostly due to the fact that the some teams have devalued the running back position in the NFL. The 49ers, however, are not one of those teams. San Francisco had the fewest pass attempts of any offense in 2013, but ran the ball more than all but two teams. That approach has been consistent in the Jim Harbaugh era.
If the team is thinking ahead in regards to their ball carriers, you could see the 49ers package some of their picks to move up to select Hyde in the second round. They could ease him into the lineup, or install a timeshare with Gore in order to keep them both fresh. Hyde could then slide into the main role in 2015, or possibly continue to split time with someone like Lattimore.