No. 2: Will Joe Williams or Matt Breida back up Carlos Hyde at RB?
When the 49ers drafted Carlos Hyde back in the 2014 NFL Draft, he was considered to be the heir apparent to former 49ers running back Frank Gore. And while Hyde has showed traits of being that guy, he has struggled to maintain his health.
Thus far in his brief career, Hyde has missed 14 games, and has yet to break the 1,000-yard threshold for rushing yards in a season, although he came up just 12 yards shy of the mark last year.
And with Hyde entering the final year of his contract, he seems to have brought a renewed dedication to becoming what the organization and fans thought he could be when he was drafted.
He has dropped weight and responded strongly to the club bringing in what some feel is his first real competition since Gore left to play in Indianapolis.
One of those players is Joe Williams, a fourth round pick from Utah selected in April’s draft. Williams was initially taken off the team’s draft board after John Lynch found out that Williams had quit his team for a short time in 2016, but after learning the whole story, Kyle Shanahan insisted they take Williams. Lynch eventually relented, and Williams has begun to show the speed and shiftiness that had Shanahan trumpeting his selection.
Williams isn’t the only player that has been pushing Hyde in camp. A UDFA from Georgia Southern is staking his claim for a roster spot as well. His name is Matt Breida, and he has been the brightest of the strong group of UDFAs the team brought in after the draft.
With his 4.37 40-yard dash, Breida’s combination of speed, athleticism, and elusiveness would be a great change-of-oace from the ground and pound game Hyde is known for. In the tweeted video below, all three are on full display.
If Hyde continues to show the hunger and competitive spirit that has reinvigorated him thus far, and he is able to carry that over into the regular season, the Niners would be ecstatic.
And even if he does, the team will still need a solid secondary back to spell him. Shanahan would still want to be able to run play-action to optimize the offensive gameplan.
More importantly, if Hyde’s physicality causes him to miss games again, the team should feel comfortable putting either Williams or Breida in the backfield.
Whichever way it goes, it’s nice to have solid options for a team that seemed to have very few they could count on the past few seasons.