The Philadelphia Eagles are going for quite the running back depth. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting the team will sign Ryan Mathews, after earlier word that they will also sign DeMarco Murray. That's certainly something.
I was just writing this article as a "Ian Rapoport says 49ers and Raiders are teams to watch with Ryan Mathews", but obviously that is out the door. Jason Cole had previously suggested a 49ers-Mathews connection back on February 21. Now it looks like all that is out the window.
I was a little baffled by the 49ers interest in Mathews. His only healthy season was 2013, and he does not seem like the kind of running back that would fit as a complementary back to Carlos Hyde and Kendall Hunter. But Chip Kelly is obviously not concerned with that, particularly given that DeMarco Murray is still an injury concern in spite of his monster year last season.
The 49ers brought in Reggie Bush on Wednesday, but it sounds like he has left the Bay Area to continue his tour of teams. Trent Baalke talked about the team now sitting down to weight the pros and cons, so my guess is an offer was not made to Bush during his visit. Ian Rapoport apparently said on NFL Network that the 49ers will likely make a push to sign Bush now that Mathews is expected to go off the market.
There is still the potential the 49ers could talk with C.J. Spiller, as that connection has been made. The 49ers could use a guy off the bench who can bring a serious change of pace. Bush and Spiller are two such running backs, if the 49ers are so inclined. I have to think the 49ers add at least one more guy to the mix, but whether it ends up being through free agency or the draft remains to be seen.
Trent Baalke did discuss the running back position during his Wednesday media session (transcript). Someone asked him if he wanted a three-headed rushing attack. His response:
I'll say this. As you look around the league, you see that more and more. This is tough. It's tough to run 20, 30 carries a game in the NFL. My hat is off to the guys that are able to do that consistently, week in and week out through 16 games, taking the type of pounding that you take. So, what you try to do is spread the wealth. Try to get through the season with your guys as healthy as you can, so when you get into that final stretch and, knock on wood, you're making a run into the playoffs, you've got guys that are fit and able to play that 17th game, that 18th game, that 19th game. It's tough. You look at today's game compared to 20 years ago, it's a different approach because there are a lot more personnel groupings that offenses are using to attack. It's hard to find that one guy that can do all three, just like it's hard to find that middle linebacker that can be a first, second and third down player. Those guys aren't just falling off trees. The teams that got them, it makes your life a lot easier. But the teams that don't, you've got find ways to put combinations of players together. You look at New England and what they do systematically, they do it as well as anybody. And that's a big part of their success.