The 49ers drafted Carlos Hyde with the 57th overall pick due to his abilities as a runner, but his rushing style is more power than pure speed. So watching him take handoffs during OTAs and minicamp won’t tell you much, other than that he knows the plays and won’t fumble away a handoff for no reason at all.
That hasn’t kept Hyde from making a strong first impression.
“Carlos, since he got here from the draft, really impressed me as a guy that … football really makes sense to him,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
“If you can just tell him what to do, you don’t have to tell him too much. That’s a beautiful thing in a running back because they have a lot of adjustments to make and protection, etc.”
Bruce Miller was the leading receiver among 49ers running backs last year, with 25 catches for 243 yards. The 49ers threw A LOT of check-down passes to running backs during the two minicamp practices I witnessed, so it stands to reason that the starting quarterback is paying close attention to what Hyde can bring in that capacity.
“He’s a very good running back,” said Colin Kaepernick. “Feel like he can make an impact here and he’s someone we can use out of the backfield. Has very good hands, has a good feel for the game and has a little wiggle to him.”
As for Kaepernick’s comment about his hands, let’s just say Hyde agrees. On the last day of minicamp, after Jim Harbaugh came over and asked Hyde and a couple other rookies what they’d be doing over the next couple weeks (the head coach’s advice: enjoy the time off), I talked with the rookie from Ohio State for a few minutes.
Here’s the Q&A:
BASG: How’s everything going? First rookie minicamp, first minicamp, what do you think so far?
Hyde: Things are going good. I have a lot better feel for the offense from rookie minicamp to now. I feel like I’m coming around and I’m looking forward to getting back and getting into training camp.
BASG: When it comes to studying, do you get the most out of the meetings or studying at home?
Hyde: I’m more of a read the play, see a video of that play, then going back at it.
BASG: That’s actually what Roman said a couple days ago about you. I asked him what you bring, and the first thing he said was you’re a guy who if you tell him one thing, he’s got it, and that’s a beautiful thing for a running back because you have so many things you have to do, including protections. Is that just always the way you’ve been?
Hyde: Yeah, that’s just the way I learn football. I’m a quick learner, and this is a dream come true. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to learn it.
BASG: Are you going to take a little bit of time off and come back here?
Hyde: Yeah, I’m going back down to Florida to work out, and I’ll be back here a week before we have to be back and … get started!
BASG: I saw Harbaugh talking to you guys a little bit. What’s he been like? What’s the team atmosphere like here?
Hyde: What I’ve got so far is it’s like a big family. Harbaugh’s the uncle. The uncle who calls the shots. Everything’s been good so far. I’m happy that I’m here. I’m happy that I’m a part of this organization. Things are going good.
BASG: Between now and training camp, is there anything specific you want to work on, or is it mostly just staying in condition?
Hyde: Right now it’s just getting in the best shape I can within this time I have. Every day I’m going to go over the plays and stuff and keep it fresh in my mind. So once I get into training camp I still know what’s going on and nothing slips away. Just study the plays, get in shape, and — psshh — sky’s the limit.
BASG: There’s no pads. So in terms of running, you can’t really tell a lot, you can’t break tackles or anything. But you’re catching a lot of passes. It looks like your hands, at least from what I saw over the last couple of days, are pretty good. How are you coming along in that way?
Hyde: I’ve got great hands. I can play receiver if they need me to. I love … I mean, it’s just another way of getting the ball in your hands. You probably have a better chance of getting in a one-on-one situation catching the ball, so I like catching the ball.