Can’t Hyde, Can’t Hold Back
Carlos Hyde or El Guapo to 49ers faithful was selected in the 2nd Round of the 2014 NFL Draft (57th Overall) with the potential to be the future lead back for the 49ers replacing the team’s all-time leading rusher and fan favorite Frank Gore. Hyde ended up being the 2nd rb on the depth chart after Gore in the 2014 season and did a great job and showed some flashes with his limited playing time. He ended the season with a total of 333 yards on just 83 carries.
The following season Frank Gore left the 49ers via free agency (Indianapolis) and Hyde was promoted into the starting role and expectations for him were extremely high. Especially after rushing for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns week one against the Minnesota Vikings. Even though his year started with such great promise, he finished with only 470 rushing yards after suffering a foot injury. On December 12 2015, Hyde was placed on Injured Reserve ending his season after appearing in just 7 games.
In 2016, Hyde remained as the starting rb and was one of the team’s few bright spots on the offensive side. He ended the season coming up just short of 1000 yards (988) averaging 4.6 ypc and adding 6 total tds. Those numbers are not elite however with the terrible offense that the team had last year, I’m actually highly impressed with his overall performance.
“We’re really high on him and what he might be able to do in this offense,” “We think he can be a highly productive player. But we’re eager to see. You have these thoughts as to, ‘Do these skills translate to what we do?’ “And he’s a very talented young man and we’re very excited and hopeful — just in the interactions we’ve had — that he’s come ready to play.” –GM John Lynch
In this recent offseason there has been various reports of Hyde not fitting into the system of new head coach Kyle Shanahan. I’m not as down on Carlos as many skeptics seem to be. Hyde does lack breakaway speed and elusiveness but he is a big strong back that can absolutely be a star in this league. Injuries have really hindered his progress so far but I truly believe that he can excel this season as the featured back. He is a one-cut, downhill runner that can power his way through tackles. Shanahan’s system is a blend of different versions of the West Coast offense with a running game that utilizes zone blocking or stretch plays. The team installed a similar run offense with former head coach Chip Kelly. The difference being that Shanahan focuses on an outside gap compared to a shotgun based version. Shanahan has had five previous seasons with a running back netting at least 1,000 yards which should get Niner fans pretty excited. Hyde should perform very well in this system if he improves on his overall vision and remains healthy. Which I believe that he will do as Coach Shanahan loves to use a rotation of backs to help ensure health, maintain energy and to utilize his different player’s best attributes to receive the highest level of production possible.
“Carlos is a guy who I was a fan of coming out of college. He had a real good career there. I looked at him hard when, I think I was in Cleveland at the time and had a good feeling he was going to be a great back then. I don’t think he’s a finished product. I think there’s a lot more to his game and I look forward to us helping him bring that out.” – Kyle Shanahan
The team added a few running backs via free agency, trades and in the draft. Joe Williams, Tim Hightower (FA), Matt Breida (UDFA) and Kapri Bibbs (via trade-Denver). Williams (4th Round Selection-Utah) poises the biggest threat to Hyde’s starting spot. Joe is a very elusive runner who has homerun potential on every snap and is the idea fit for new rb coach Bobby Turner.
While I feel that Williams will certainly receive some increased playing time, (barring injury) I highly doubt that he will be promoted into the starting role this year. Could I see the team moving on from Carlos Hyde in the near future? Perhaps but not this season. I think the team’s vision would be to use both of the backs similar to what Shanahan had in Atlanta with Coleman and Freeman. Reports out of OTAs stated that Hyde was the slowest and most indecisive running back on the team but let’s give him some time to adjust to the new system.
Hyde is entering a contract year and was definitely put on notice from the front office that he needs to step his game up but hang on everyone not so fast!! Fans and media are so quick to write him off but he is an extremely talented back that you don’t just give away. Many people would like the team to trade Hyde but what do you honestly think that the 49ers would get in return? Mid-round pick at best. I’d rather keep him, as I think he will explode this year and I’m predicting about 1100-1200 yards with a career year in receiving yards as well (call me a homer if you’d like). Hyde is only 26 years old and his contract is only a $1.17 million cap hit for this season so why not give him the chance??
This is a make or break season for Carlos Hyde and I for one will proudly say that he will perform at a high level this year and I am very excited to how he will be used in Shanahan’s system.
Mark my words, the best is still to come for Carlos Hyde!!