San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde has a stress fracture in his foot, which typically carries a recovery time of four-to-six weeks. On Sunday, he will miss his fourth consecutive game, and the bye week will turn that into five weeks the young running back has missed with the injury.
This means all eyes will be on whether or not Hyde plays when the 49ers take on the Chicago Bears in Week 13.
Personally, I'm hoping he doesn't play. If anybody has a convincing argument for why the franchise running back needs to risk his health to get playing time in a losing season. No, Hyde never quite reached the status he did in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, but I thought Hyde showed consistently strong play.
He looked like a franchise running back, in other words. Hyde was decisive with the football, he ran hard and fought for every single yard and most importantly, he did fine in blitz pickup. Hyde is doing something that many 49ers fans considered unthinkable for a very long time: he's replacing Frank Gore, the best running back in franchise history. Gore is the real deal, and while I doubt he makes the Hall of Fame, I wish he would.
I'm every bit as confident in Hyde's ability going forward as I was when Gore started to show signs of brilliance. That doesn't mean Hyde will surpass Gore or even be close to being as good as he was at his peak, it just means that I have seen enough. You guys have seen enough. The 49ers have seen enough.
So why play this game? Why continue to list him on the injury report, why create the possibility that he practices this week or that week? Why not just place the guy on injured reserve and be done with it? Stress fractures are tricky injuries. They hurt a lot and they are really finnicky when it comes to recovery.
If Hyde comes back next week or even the one after that, there's no way to guarantee that hard running -- Hyde's style -- won't further injure the foot. I'm just not sure why people want him to play at all. If he needs surgery, he should get the surgery and go on injured reserve.
Personally, I feel good about Hyde going forward. I think the position needs to be addressed in some form with a promising rookie or a free agent pickup this offseason, but Hyde is, in my mind, the unquestioned starter. And if the 49ers are going to turn things around, they will need Hyde at his best -- next season.