Yesterday, I wrote a post speculating a bit on what this season's offense might look like, concluding that some circumstantial evidence suggests an offense that tries to take deep shots down the field for explosive plays. While I am suspicious that an offense should, or even can, try to generate 21 points off of a 48% completion rate on any sort of consistent basis, I'll reserve judgment for when I actually see the games played. This could all be part of some sort of Steve Kerr-like ruse.
That speculation dealt more with the passing game than the run game. Well, today, we have some quotations for Tom Rathman from 49ers.com about the three major RBs on the roster. The quotations don't give away any clues about what sort of run game might be employed - for example, it doesn't say much about the switch to a zone-blocking scheme (which, by the way, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman used occasionally, so I'm hoping it won't be a totally foreign concept). But, these quotations do help us understand each player a bit better as we draw closer and closer to the season.
He looks dynamic out there. He's got some creativity as a football player. We're very fortunate to have him on our team, and we're looking for big things from him. He's moving around really good, and I think he wants to show that he's explosive.
We've had numerous discussions here at NN about Bush and his potential impact on the offense (will they throw more screens? will Bush line up in the slot? etc.), and it seems like is a camp who is excited about his potential in the passing game and a camp who worries about his age and the slow down of his production. Well, as you would expect, Rathman seems a bit more excited about Bush than down on him as a player. It's coach speak, of course, but it does seem to demonstrate how Bush will fit into the offense. "Explosive" fits in with what Steve Logan was saying about Coling Kaepernick's passing and rushing abilities, so it should come as no surprise that Bush will probably be incorporated in the pass game. Whether or not he can deliver remains to be seen (and the same goes for his punt returning), of course.
If you could say you want your group to look like one guy, I'd say I want my guys to look like Kendall Hunter. I want my guys to approach the game like Kendall Hunter. He's a professional football player. He gives great effort and is very talented and dynamic. He's got everything that you're looking for. The bottom line with him is he's had a couple tough years with injuries that have put him behind the eight-ball. But the time is now for him.
I'm probably most excited about what Rathman had to say about Hunter. If Hunter can come back from this injury with the same strength and speed as before, then he could be a really important part of the running game. Hunter has some of the prototypical "third down back" skills, but he could be more than that. This jives with another quote from Rathman:
Certain players do certain things better than other players, so we're going to try to maximize our potential with our players and put them in a position to win. But I would say that they're all well-rounded. I'd like to think that they're all every down players.
That's what we're trying to develop here. We don't want to try to pigeon anybody and say, ‘You're only a third-down ‘back.' I don't believe in that. If you come to play football, you come to play every down.
Hunter, if he is really back from his injury, could be the guy that Rathman is talking about.
I think he's taken a little more ownership of his position, even though nothing has been set as far as who's going to be our starter. All those guys are going to play because they're all very talented and have the ability to be that guy. But Carlos is doing really well. He's picked up right where he left off, so I'm excited to see him get out there and get to work.
This seems to be a pretty fair assessment of how everybody feels about Hyde. He is clearly the best RB on the roster - his year last season was impressive. And, I think he has that initial burst that could make him a very good RB.
There are still a lot of questions about the running game, and in fact, a lot of them happen to do with the offensive line (and, for the record, I'm on board with trying to pick up Evan Mathis). But, it's good to hear about the RBs and Rathman's take on them.