Why 49ers RB Carlos Hyde Will Improve Under Kyle Shanahan

49ers running back Carlos Hyde is poised to have a breakout season in 2017 under new head coach Kyle Shanahan. Here’s why.

Not much went right for the San Francisco 49ers last season. Defensively, they were the poster boys of the “bend and then break” strategy, ranking dead last in team rush defense, all while giving up the 6th most passing touchdowns in the NFL. Offensively, they weren’t much better. A Colin Kaepernick/Blaine Gabbert tandem can only take a team so far.

The lone bright spot upon which new head coach Kyle Shanahan can build on is the run-game, and more specifically, Carlos Hyde.

Hyde helped the 49ers finish with the fourth most yards on the ground in 2016, to go along with 15 touchdowns. Individually, he had his best season of his young career. He totaled career highs in rushing yards (988), yards per carry (4.6), and total touchdowns (ninr).

Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) warms up prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Hyde was even better the more carries he got. When he was given 15 carries or more, his yards-per-carry average jumped to 5.2, and he scored a rushing touchdown in each one of those games.

Unfortunately, his 2016 season ended after suffering a MCL injury in the 49ers’ Week 16 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Thankfully, it did not require surgery. That’s good news for Hyde and the 49ers because under Shanahan’s watch, he’s ready to make his mark on the NFL.

In the last five seasons, a Shanahan-led offense was a top-five rushing offense in three of those five years. He’s had success with running backs of various styles, from bruisers like Alfred Morris to hybrids like Devonta Freeman. Shanahan also brought Bobby Turner with him from Atlanta. Turner is a longtime running backs coach who has coached the likes of Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis and the aforementioned Morris and Freeman.

While Hyde has the tools and staff to succeed, he’s going to need help from his teammates. The 49ers must address the quarterback situation or else defenses will consistently stack the line of scrimmage with defenders. The 49ers drafting and starting a rookie quarterback for 2017 does him no favors.

He’ll also need his offensive line to step up. Per Pro Football Focus, the Niners’ offensive line in 2016 was fifth worst in the league. And 67 percent of Hyde’s 988 rushing yards came after contact, which meant he got minimal help from his guys up front. That’s just another area which Shanahan and new GM John Lynch will have to address during the offseason.

While there will be challenges, Carlos Hyde’s future with the 49ers looks bright. A lot can change with the draft and free agency but for now, it looks like the sky is the limit. He is a talented player and has a coaching staff that knows what to do with talented running backs.

A breakout 2017 is in the making.