Yesterday, we took a look at the tight end position and where it currently stands with the San Francisco 49ers. We've already hit most of the positions and have taken a look at where it's headed throughout the remainder of free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft. We've already hit most of the compelling points, but we have to touch up on every position.
Today, we've come to the running back position. The 49ers have been set at running back for some time now, as Frank Gore refuses to stop being totally awesome in almost every way. Finding a stable backup to Gore and potential replacement has been a topic in recent seasons and one that I'm still not sure we are close to truly figuring out.
On one hand, Kendall Hunter runs a lot like Gore and has looked good in relief from time to time, but has struggled to remain healthy. LaMichael James has the speed and quickness to make a difference on the field, but it's unclear if the coaching staff is really confident in his abilities at all. Some are even suggesting that James might not be with the team for much longer.
I'm not so sure about that ... I dislike all the complaining on Twitter and the like, but I don't think he'll be gone. Either way, we have another player to consider: Marcus Lattimore. I suppose there's also Jewel Hampton, but the important thing to do here is set a depth chart.
And I'm not sure I can. Gore is the starter and Hunter is the backup, but is James next or do the 49ers have big plans for Lattimore? Is he Gore's replacement, or if that Hunter? I don't think we have an answer to that and I'm not sure the 49ers themselves have an answer to that.
So what's happened thus far in free agency? Aside from a reported flirtation with Toby Gerhart -- for some unknown reason -- nothing at all. The 49ers haven't made any moves and aren't expected to make any moves. But what about the NFL Draft?
At some point, the 49ers either need to hit on drafting Gore's replacement -- and again, maybe they already have -- or just stop drafting young running backs (so they can stop whining when they're not playing). But I'd be shocked if the 49ers spend a high draft pick on a running back.
In fact, we may not see a running back in the first round this year. The running back position is no longer a premium in the NFL, with smaller contracts all around, less value in the draft and a general commitment to the passing game around the league. I'm not sure what the running back position will look like in five or six years.
But will the 49ers draft a running back? I'm not so sure. The team is bringing in UCF back Storm Johnson for a visit on Monday. However, I think the position is going to look like it does now going forward. But at the very least, we should look at the top running backs in this draft. Once again, I'll go ahead and link to Niners Nation user Poldarn and his consensus big board post, which thus far has proven to be an excellent resource.
Anybody on that list catch your eye? Better than James? Hunter? Lattimore?