Under Jim Harbaugh, the Niners have relied a power running attack that has helped them win a total of 41 regular and postseason games over the last three years. They have done so by featuring Frank Gore behind a gigantic offensive line. As Gore possibly enters his final season by the bay, Harbaugh and company made sure that they had the heir apparent in house by selecting Ohio State‘s Carlos Hyde.
The 49ers were fortunate that Hyde, who many believe to be the best running back in the draft, was still available in at the end of the second round. At just under 6-foot and 230-pounds, Hyde is a physical downhill runner who will be the perfect fit in San Francisco’s offensive scheme.
In 21 games during his junior and senior seasons, Hyde gained 2,491 yards and scored 31 rushing touchdowns. In a league that has seen more and more teams go to a running back by committee approach, Hyde looks the part of an every down, workhorse back. Because of his size, he does lack explosive speed, but that shouldn’t take away from his ability to be ultra-productive behind one of the best offensive lines in the game.
With Gore still going strong, Hyde will begin the season in the No. 2 role. He will get his carries, however, and could remove options like Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore from the equation entirely. In 2015 and beyond, Hyde will be expected to take over Gore’s mantle as the 49ers’ feature back.
As far as Hunter and Lattimore, their futures are now a little more cloudy. Hunter will be a free agent after the season, and Lattimore’s health could have a lot to do with whether or not he is brought back. One of the two will still be on the team come 2015 but will most likely play a limited role behind Hyde.