It’s a crowded 49ers running back room, but former Baylor tailback JaMycal Hasty could be someone worth watching in training camp.
There are a number of good reasons Niner Noise has touted San Francisco 49ers rookie running back JaMycal Hasty, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Hasty was projected to be either a late-round draft addition or a priority free agent, and now he’s in line to potentially be yet another one of those sleeper tailbacks head coach Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner turn into hidden-gem stars.
Of course, the former Baylor standout has a long way to go before becoming anything of a household name, even among San Francisco fans.
On the surface, though, the intangible traits are already there even if his collegiate stats don’t jump off the charts:
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
A few things from Hasty’s stat sheet at college. For starters, he’s seen a lot of usage over the last four years, but him showcasing some skill in the receiving game could ultimately be what sets him apart from an otherwise crowded tailback room. UDFAs frequently have to do much more to make the cut, particularly early in their respective careers, yet Hasty has shown a knack for making big plays happen.
Still, he’ll have to beat out some other more-established names to stand a chance, and this will be the focus on whether or not Hasty winds up being a Week 1 addition to San Francisco’s roster.
Why JaMycal Hasty improves with 49ers in 2020
At 5-foot-8 and 203 pounds, Hasty’s frame alone makes for a tough tackle. His center of gravity is low, and his one-cut ability certainly generated a number of highlight-reel plays during his time at Baylor:
Hasty’s straight-line speed is worth mentioning, too, as his 4.55 40-yard time at the NFL Scouting Combine suggests. But it’s his agility that’ll ultimately determine whether or not he can be effective as a runner at the next level.
When Hasty gets into open space, he’s trouble for opposing defenders, particularly in one-on-one situations. Considering Shanahan’s preference for an outside-zone scheme, one would think Hasty could thrive in this kind of role.
Especially if Hasty winds up being an effective contributor in the receiving game, which the college stats show he can.
Why JaMycal Hasty regresses with 49ers in 2020
Some of Hasty’s positive traits also reflect over into his shortcomings. Case in point, Hasty often takes those rushes far to the outside instead of identifying holes earlier in the defense. This has often meant a lot of ground covered for only a handful of yards gained.
On top of that, Hasty relies much more on elusiveness than power, and it’s hard to suggest he’ll be much more than a gadget runner who can make the first defender or two miss. The lack of size is something which could ultimately prevent him from being a heavily used tailback. Perhaps a third-down receiving option out of the backfield, but not much more than that.
Here, though, Hasty also has troubles in pass protection, which won’t help in those third-down passing roles either.
And if Hasty can’t grapple protection while solidifying himself as a regular pass-catching threat, his time on the roster will be short.
Chances of making 49ers’ 53-man roster
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Hasty making the cut by Week 1 is the sheer number of tailbacks San Francisco is currently carrying.
Fellow UDFA running back Salvon Ahmed is one name competing with Hasty right out of the gate, while third-year pro Jeff Wilson is another player on the back end of the depth chart desperately holding onto a roster spot, too.
Hasty could be seen as a primary reserve option for McKinnon’s role, except the latter is significantly better in pass protection than the rookie. That’s an obstacle for the UDFA, and it could ultimately be the reason why Hasty doesn’t make the 53-man roster in year one even if he solidifies himself as a pass catcher.
McKinnon’s health and status with the team beyond 2020 could ultimately open up a long-term door for Hasty, though, which suggests a real possibility the rookie spends his first year on the practice squad until his name is called.
Still, at least as far as dark-horse candidates go, Hasty’s positive traits should be fun enough to watch this training camp and preseason, and perhaps those wind up being too good for Shanahan and Co. to pass up entering 2020.