After a 2016 season of historical San Francisco 49ers lows, the single bright spot of last year’s squad is shaping up to be one of the new teams largest areas of concern.
When this new San Francisco 49ers regime began evaluating talent for this year’s NFL Draft and free agency, there were concerns across the board that would need to be addressed with new personnel.
The running game seemed to be one area that had the most potential to be a strength entering the preseason.
In 2016 the 49ers finished fourth in the league in rushing, given a third of it came from quarterback runs. This year’s squad showed a lot of promise after the draft, especially after undrafted free agent Matt Breida began to show promise alongside veteran Carlos Hyde and fourth-round selection Joe Williams from Utah.
In the first preseason game against Kansas City, both Breida and Williams flashed great things with their speed and versatility in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s new system. In that game, a unexpected name surfaced with a lot of success in the late drives of the game, Raheem Mostert.
Mostert, entering his third year in the NFL and with his fifth team, did not have a lot of expectations from the media or the fan base. Strangely enough, he has looked like a RB1 against the second and third stringers his preseason, eclipsing all other 49ers backs, with 115 yards on 19 carries, 104 yards on two receptions with two touchdowns.
Adding his special teams chops with very respectable punt return and gunner contributions, Mostert has made a case to be noticed by the coaching staff of the 49ers and all the other teams in the league.
Hyde, widely considered to be the best player from the 2016 squad, not owning the numbers 74 or 53, entered the preseason with a lot of questions and speculation on how he would fit into Shanahan’s outside zone-run scheme.
There was even a lot of talk about him being traded or even cut before the regular season starts.
I was never part of this ridiculousness and wrote a piece after the draft that broke down what I believed to be what would become of the RB situation in San Francisco. You can read it here. In this article I highlighted the new backs and how they would fit into the new system.
Basically what I speculated was that Hyde would prove to own the starting position with his amazing cutback abilities and hard running style, withWilliams backing him up as a bit of a change-of-pace back with his extreme speed. I also stated Breida would back up Williams with many simular traits, and Kapri Bibbs would do the same for Hyde with many similar traits.