The 49ers haven’t had much luck in the early days of training camp, losing a pair of running backs to injuries.  Kendall Hunter went down last week with a torn ACL and is out for the season, and now LaMichael James dislocated his elbow, and will be gone for some time.  The 49ers who had one of the deepest backfields in the NFL will now be looking to rookie Carlos Hyde and possibly second year man Marcus Lattimore to step in to spell Frank Gore for touches.

Hunter has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Hunter has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.

 

Marcus Lattimore remains on the PUP list to start training camp, after coming back from that gruesome leg injury that ended his college career at South Carolina.  I have been a huge Lattimore supporter, with his talent and perseverance I believe he will be a successful running back in this league.  The question is when will he be healthy enough to play? Lattimore practiced sparingly at 49ers minicamps, and hasn’t practiced at all in the first few days of training camp.  San Francisco GM Trent Baalke has said Lattimore needs to mentally come back from the injury as well as physically.  So when Lattimore does come back he will be fully ready to handle a workload.  When healthy, Lattimore can be an every down back with a combination of power and speed that is rare in backs his size.  With the injuries already on the roster, Lattimore could be counted on during the 2014 season.

The running back that will see an immediate increase in reps will be rookie Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State.  Hyde is looking to work his way to the number two back behind Gore.  Hyde is similar to Gore as bruising runner, and is the obvious choice to replace Gore, who at age 31 does not have a lot of years left.  The biggest thing a rookie running back can learn in the NFL to increase his playing time is pass blocking.  If a running back can protect his quarterback when he goes back to pass, he can be on the field in all situations.  Hyde was never relied upon to pass block in college, so in order to secure the number two role he will have to be a quick and efficient learner.

Luckily for San Francisco, they have drafted well in the past few seasons to secure depth on their team to be able to withhold a rash of injuries.  Now it depends on the athletes drafted to step up and fill the void.  Hyde will start to become a hot commodity on draft day, so if you don’t trust a 31 year old Gore, look to snatch the number two man in San Fran, whoever that may be.

Dan SchalkFF AnalysisThe 49ers haven't had much luck in the early days of training camp, losing a pair of running backs to injuries.  Kendall Hunter went down last week with a torn ACL and is out for the season, and now LaMichael James dislocated his elbow, and will be gone for...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?