The San Francisco 49ers were back at practice on Wednesday, and running backs Carlos Hyde and Mike Davis sat out the session. Head coach Jim Tomsula said on Wednesday that Hyde remained day-to-day with his foot injury. Davis had surgery on his hand on Tuesday, but his status remains unknown beyond seemingly not playing this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons.
If Hyde and Davis do sit, that leaves the 49ers with Kendall Gaskins, Pierre Thomas, and Shaun Draughn as their three running backs. Gaskins spent the first seven weeks of the season on the practice squad, before being promoted last week. Thomas was a free agent through the first eight weeks of the season, while Draughn spent the first five weeks with the Cleveland Browns before being waived.
I have gotten questions from friends asking who of those three would I start in fantasy football. They know I am a 49ers fan, so they think I have sufficient insight into the mind of this coaching staff. Geep Chryst will speak on Thursday, and I am sure he will get questions about running back playing time. I don't expect anything close to a useful answer, but we'll keep an eye out.
If I had to guess, I'd say we see a rotation where Gaskins gets the start, and Thomas gets the bulk of the complementary work. We could see Draughn work his way in for more work as well, but I would likely set the depth chart as Gaskins, then Thomas, then Draughn. None is really worth much for fantasy purposes at this point, but Gaskins seems like the guy to grab for now.
The running game faces a Falcons defense that is not great, but is not awful against the run. Football Outsiders ranks them 15th in run defense. FO ranks their defensive line third in adjusted line yards. The Falcons rank poorly in open field yards, which indicates their linebackers and secondary are the bigger issue in run defense.