In this article, we are going to recap starting running back Carlos Hyde’s 2016 season. Hyde was placed on injured reserve after spraining his MCL against the Los Angeles Rams this past Saturday. Niners Live is going to showcase draft prospects who could be drafted by the team as insurance policies or possible long-term replacements to Hyde.
Hyde entered the season eager to prove he could be the bell cow for the 49ers and set career highs across the board. He rushed 217 times for 988 yards while averaging 4.6 yards a carry and six touchdowns via ESPN.com. Hyde also showed off his versatility of being a threat out of the backfield, catching 27 passes for 163 yards while averaging 6.0 yards per catch and three touchdowns. Hyde’s best game of the season was against the New York Jets; he rushed for 193 yards on only 17 carries, and added a seven-yard touchdown catch. He displayed his combination of vision, speed, and physical style of running to perfection in that game. Hyde records another 100 yard game against the Seattle Seahawks, 103 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Hyde is a bruising runner who has a violent stiff arm move that leaves would-be defenders on the ground or gasping for air while he runs past them.
Important to note: 193 rushing yards is a career best for him. San Francisco 49ers: Defenders Can Run, But Can’t Hyde.
Hyde was not able to play a complete season for the third straight year. He missed three games in 2016 and was knocked out of more than one because of injuries. His first was a right shoulder injury and the second a sprained MCL that ended his season. His worst game of the season was against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10 where he rushed 13 times for 14 yards. He set a personal goal of reaching 1,000 yards rushing and came up 12 yards short. The predictability of Chip Kelly’s offense could have contributed to his inability to convert some short yardage first downs this season. Too many plays were called where defenses knew which gap Hyde was looking to attack and met him at or sometimes behind the line of scrimmage.
Interesting to note: Hyde during his low period of the season averaged under three yards a carry.
Leonard Fournette, LSU (round 1-2)
- Size 6’1” and 230 lbs
- Powerful north and south runner
- Added finesse to running style which contributes to his elusiveness in the open field
- Has the speed and acceleration to hit the corner
- Has battled injuries in college
- Lacks experience catching the ball out of the backfield
- Not developed has a pass protector
Dalvin Cook, Florida State (round 1-2)
- Home run hitter, can turn a 5 yard run up the middle to a touchdown
- Great vision and makes himself skinny at the line of scrimmage, so he can get through the smallest of running lanes
- Can be a threat in the passing game
- Determined runner who keeps driving his feet to fight for extra yards
- Can be impatient at the line of scrimmage and misses easy yards
- Doesn’t have the frame to constantly overpower defenders
- Doesn’t sustain blocks in pass protection
- Injury concerns
Royce Freeman, Oregon (rounds 2-3)
- Size 5’11” and 230 lbs
- Has wiggle and makes defenders in the open field, forced 80 missed tackles (PFF)
- Can play outside in the slot and catches ball well out of the backfield
- Good vision and reads holes well
- Doesn’t have top-end speed
- Runs east and west too much at times
- Has only played in a spread offense
Other notable running backs are Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Georgia’s Nick Chubb, and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine.
In closing: Carlos Hyde had his best statistical season in his three-year career; however, his season ended with him on the IR for the second season in a row. Hyde, at 6’0” and 235 lbs, has the size, speed, and vision to be a workhorse running back, but he can’t beat the injury bug. He has missed 12 games in his three-year career and must figure out a way to utilize his physical style of play while taking care of his body. He must master the skill of availability because no matter how talented he is, if he can’t stay healthy, the team will eventually find a replacement for him.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne Staff writer at Niners live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.