San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick referenced running back Kendall Hunter when talking about replacements for Frank Gore, saying that "a lot of people forget about" him. When I read that quote in Matt Barrows' post over at the Sacramento Bee, I realized just how true that statement is. When we talk about the running back position going forward, we talk about Carlos Hyde and we talk about the addition of Reggie Bush in free agency.
Hyde is set to be the primary ball-carrier going forward, and Bush would seemingly have a lot to offer as a change-of-pace back who could be used in the passing game. I'm honestly pretty happy with the Bush signing after my initial worry about overpaying (the 49ers did not overpay), even if he doesn't put up the yards or touchdowns, I think his presence on the field will make for an appreciable difference just with the way the defense has to cover the 49ers.
But what should we really expect out of someone like Hunter? At one point, we were all very excited to see what Hunter had to offer, and many of us felt that Hunter would eventually be the guy to take over for Gore. But multiple injuries have derailed Hunter's career, including a torn ACL in training camp last year. Hunter missed the entirety of the 2014 season with said injury.
According to Barrows, Hunter is "on pace for a fast comeback," and is already going full bore in practice. He seems fully ready to contribute to the 49ers' running game, but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what his role is going to be. He's smaller than Hyde, possibly a bit faster, but they both have similar one-cut running styles. They're both tough to bring down but Hunter doesn't fit the "change of pace" role so much as the backup role.
Hunter has put up per-carry averages of 4.2, 5.2 and 4.6 yards between 2011-13, respectively. For his career, he's carried the ball 262 times for 1,202 yards and seven touchdowns, a per-carry average of 4.6 yards. Those are solid numbers, and if he can stay healthy, I really like what he brings to the table. But I'm also not sure how the 49ers plan on using him.
It was something of a surprise when the 49ers re-signed Hunter to an extension not long after he tore his ACL. Clearly, someone on the coaching staff or in the front office really likes what he brings to the table. But what do you expect out of Hunter at this point? I'm not doing a full on over/under for him because I honestly have no idea what to expect. Thoughts?
Here's a quick Vine from workouts this past week.