First of all, Trent Baalke did an outstanding job confusing the hell out of everyone. I still haven’t even decided if I’m going to go through all the trades and explain what the 49ers received and/or gave up. Life’s too short, it’s Friday, and there are more important things to go over. Namely, the San Francisco 49ers drafted a running back for the fourth straight season.
Move over, at least one running back. In comes Carlos Hyde, a consensus top-three back in this draft who rushed 208 times for 1,521 yards (7.3 yards per carry, 138 yards per game) and 15 touchdowns in 2013 for Ohio State. The Buckeyes suspended Hyde for the first three games of the season following an alleged incident with a woman at a nightclub. Charges were dropped and he showed “significant remorse” afterward, but with the 49ers’ off-field troubles in recent years that little nugget will definitely raise eyebrows.
The 49ers were supposed to gorge on cornerbacks and wide receivers, at least in the early rounds, and they’ve drafted a safety and a running back. The safety, Jimmie Ward, can play some nickel corner. Maybe the Niners will turn Hyde into a wide receiver?
Probably not, since he ran a 4.61 40-yard dash, he’s listed at 6′ 0″, 230 pounds (Hyde has dealt with weight issues in the past), and only caught 34 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns over his four-year collegiate career. Nope, the 49ers are a power running team at heart and they want someone who can do what the current guys can’t.
Frank Gore slowed down considerably at the end of last year after top-five production in the first half of the season. He’s still one of the best blockers at the position, and his vision will never go away, but the 49ers can’t keep handing the ball to him 20+ times per game. Kendall Hunter was barely used last year; either he needed a full year to get over his Achilles tear or the 49ers have lost confidence. LaMichael James worked out in Texas when the rest of the team was in Santa Clara a couple weeks ago, and everyone knows they’d trade him today if they could get anything decent in return.
Then there’s Marcus Lattimore, a great guy who killed it in college before suffering a debilitating knee injury. At the end of April I wrote about how we’re probably expecting too much from Lattimore, both in the short- and long-term. If he was ready to step in and take carries away from Gore, would the 49ers have waited longer to pick up a ball carrier? We don’t really know — they could think Hyde is the next coming of Arian Foster. But since Lattimore is not yet 100% and may never be, the 49ers have to make other arrangements.
One area where the 49ers will expect Hyde to step in right away is short yardage. The 49ers’ best goal-line back was Anthony Dixon, who signed with the Bills and isn’t exactly stellar in that area anyway.
Oh, and just as I’m getting ready to put a bow on this post and hit “publish,” Matt Maiocco has an update on the picks the 49ers’ currently have … until Baalke deals them all away for other picks in this draft and in 2015.
49ers remaining picks: 4 in third round (70, 77, 94, 100); 2 in the fourth (129, 150), 1 in fifth (170) and 2 in seventh (243, 245).
— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) May 10, 2014
Hyde scouting reports
DRAFT PROJECTION Rounds 1-2
BOTTOM LINE A big, strong, powerful, NFL feature back who carried the Buckeyes’ offense as a senior and proved he can be a workhorse. Solid all-around, chunk runner well-built for the physicality of the AFC North.
The powerful Hyde is a one-cut downhill runner who can pick up yards after contact. He looks like he has the burst and the quickness to hit the hole before it closes in the NFL. Hyde has a lot of power and can run over, or through, defensive backs in the open field. He is a first-round talent who may slip to Day 2 because of the devaluing of the running back position. Some teams are grading Hyde as a first-rounder, while others are giving him a second-round grade. Hyde or Jeremy Hill is likely to be the first running back selected.
North-south runner blasted for 1,527 yards last year, the first running back for an Urban Meyer-coached team to rush 1,000 yards in a season. More impressively, he did it despite missing first three games on suspension for an altercation with a woman in a Columbus nightclub last summer. “I go out every game with the mindset that I have to make up for those three games,” Hyde said in October. “That suspension … really hurt.” Frankly: Reliable in terms of ball security and consistent chunks per carry, but lacks both elusiveness and good-bye speed. So he must take football seriously, starting with avoiding weight problems that plagued him early in college, or his pro career will go pffft.