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2010 49ers Roster Projections: Running Backs

In years past, June 1 was a big day in the offseason because well-known veterans were cut on this day as a way of saving cap money. Things have changed in the last few years and this is no longer much of an issue. There is the issue of restricted free agents (most notably O.J. Atogwe), but otherwise, things are fairly quiet. Given that, it's as good a time as any to roll through some 2010 49ers roster projections. Last week we began this series with a look at the quarterbacks. Although the Jarrett Brown fan club is slowly developing, the vast majority of people expect Nate Davis to be on the 53-man roster come week 1.

We move along through the offensive backfield to discuss the running back situation. Frank Gore is far and away the number one guy in the backfield, but the team continues to project the idea that they want to cut down on his workload. Gore is the workhorse for this offense and the team certainly wouldn't want him to break down any time soon. The team has added a pair of running backs the last two drafts in the hope of figuring out some kind of committee behind Gore. We'll see if it pays off in 2010.

Also, I've included Michael Robinson as a "wild card" of sorts, and he'll also likely be mentioned in the fullback portion of this projection series. As a guy who does a little bit of everything, I do think he makes the roster, but it's hard to qualify him at one particular position. So for now, he gets a wild card status.

Frank Gore
Glen Coffee

Strong Bubble
Anthony Dixon

Michael Robinson

After the jump, we discuss the back-up running back position.

The only issue to discuss when it comes to Frank Gore is if he can avoid getting banged up in 2010. And part of that will be determined by whether or not the backup running backs will be able to step and take care of business. Although teams still succeed with a single-back system, depth at the running back position has really developed into the copy-cat issue of this decade.

As you can see, I posted Anthony Dixon as being on the "strong" bubble. Some may be asking why he'd be on the bubble and Glen Coffee is a lock. My reasoning for that is the draft status of each. As a third round pick, I can see very few reasons the 49ers would cut Coffee. He had his struggles last year, but I just don't see the team giving up on him at this point.

As for Dixon, I'm fairly certain he's going to be one of the 49ers backup running backs in 2010, but as a 6th round pick, the Thomas Clayton syndrome is still out there. There would seem to be differences between Dixon and Clayton, but it still keeps me a little on edge about Dixon's roster chances. When I do my eventual 53-man roster projection, I'm fairly certain Dixon will be on there. However, I think it's more just a matter of needing some time to think it over.

The question is which one of these guys will emerge as the primary backup to Frank Gore in 2010? Will we see Coffee's talent show through, or will Anthony Dixon end up a 6th-round diamond in the rough? Or will neither work out in 2010? More importantly, will a solid backup be necessary for the 49ers to emerge from their playoff drought?