The San Francisco 49ers have one of the NFL‘s best running backs in Frank Gore, but the team also has arguably the best running back stable in the league with runners such as Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore and second-round pick Carlos Hyde all backing Gore up this season.
San Francisco selected Hyde in the second round this past May during the NFL Draft, and whether or not Hunter or James makes the team this season likely hinges on the health of Lattimore’s knee. If Lattimore is fully healthy and ready to produce, Hunter and/or James could be on the outside looking in.
Hunter has been one of San Francisco’s most consistent players during his short tenure with the team, only fumbling two times in 262 carries over three seasons. He has never started more than one game in a season and has seen his playing time slowly decrease after having a stellar rookie season in 2011 where he rushed the ball 112 times for 473 yards and two touchdowns while catching 16 passes for 195 yards. In 2013, Hunter only saw 78 carries for 358 yards and three touchdowns to go along with two receptions for 13 yards. He is dynamic enough to be picked up this season if San Francisco decides to cut him during camp cuts or could even warrant a pick or two via trade.
The 5-foot-7, 199-pound runner is just 25 years of age and has little wear and tear on his body. Hunter lacks the power to be an every down back at the NFL level, but he is a valuable change-of-pace back and I doubt that San Francisco is willing to part ways with such a vital and important offensive piece despite the talent the team has at running back.
Look for Hunter to remain with San Francisco this season unless a trade is completed to send him elsewhere. Hunter is too good of a back to cut during camp for an unproven player like Lattimore.