Each offseason, we put together a series of articles called 90-in-90, in which we take a quick look at each member of the San Francisco 49ers 90-man training camp roster. For veterans, we look at why they might improve or regress, and what kind of impact we expect in the upcoming season. For rookies, we look at the expected impact, and odds of making the roster. With the season finished, it is time to look at how we did with some of those expectations for the rookies. We started the series with a look at Chris Borland, and then Jimmie Ward.
Today, we move on to the 49ers second round pick, running back Carlos Hyde. The 49ers acquired Hyde after a variety of maneuvering. The 49ers initially had the Kansas City Chiefs pick at No. 24 in the second round, via the Alex Smith trade. They then traded down with the Denver Broncos to No. 31, and back up with the Miami Dolphins to No. 25. All that maneuvering resulted in Carlos Hyde and picks.
Nick Chiamardas took a look at Hyde in the 90-in-90 breakdown, and I projected a best and worst case scenario. In discussing Hyde's expected impact, Nick said he would likely assume the primary backup role. He wrote his 90-in-90 shortly after Kendall tore his ACL. LaMichael James was still on the roster, and many of us expected Marcus Lattimore to contribute something. While there were bodies there, Hyde had the look of a guy ready to move right into a significant role.
Nick projected Hyde to have as many as 100 carries, equaling the carries of all players not named Frank Gore. In my best case look, I suggested something similar, without getting too deep into numbers. For the worst case, I suggested a concern about weight, and his role ending up primarily as a short yardage back.
Hyde quickly emerged as the primary backup, but he did not have the second most carries. Hyde finished with 83 carries, behind quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who ended up with 104 carries. Hyde averaged exactly 4.0 yards per carry, rushing for 333 yards and four touchdowns. He had three games with double digit carries, and five games averaging at least five yards per carry.
I don't think Hyde was a disappointment, but we'll certainly be looking for a step forward in 2015. He showed the kind of bull-ish running he can put together. While Frank Gore can squeeze through the smallest of holes, Hyde is more inclined to just barrel through defenders. That certainly can work for a young back, but he'll need to expand his repertoire a little bit to extend out his career.
Right now, Hyde projects as the team's starting running back in 2015. Of course, we don't know what Frank Gore and the 49ers have in store as free agency approaches in the next month. I think there is a decent chance Gore returns, but it is hard to tell at this point. If Gore is back, Hyde will still likely see a sizable increase in carries. Gore carried the ball 255 times. That was the lowest number of carries he has had in a 16-game season. I imagine it would go down further if he returned in 2015, but how much is the question.
If Gore returned in 2015, how would you see a Gore/Hyde split working?