Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
The San Francisco 49ers are making a significant transition at the running back position in 2015, following the departure of Frank Gore. Second year running back Carlos Hyde is expected to be the team's lead back, with Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter both looking like interesting pass-catching options.
However, the 49ers have a fourth running back who has flown under the radar given the depth at the position. The team invested a fourth round pick in this year's draft on South Carolina running back Mike Davis. He was the 12th running back off the board, but has flashed talent to be worth much more.
Davis is a power rusher, who brings a nimbleness to the position. David Neumann broke down some of his film in May, and we can see the abilities that reflect a little bit of Frank Gore. He has a whole lot of work to do to get anywhere near that, but the skillset is intriguing.
Davis is coming off a 2014 season that was marred to some extent by injuries and conditioning issues. He was coming off a 2013 season in which he averaged 5.8 yards per carry (1,183 rushing yards) and had 11 rushing touchdowns, while also totaling 34 receptions for 352 yards. In 2014, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry, finishing the season with 982 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He had 32 receptions for 368 yards.
Davis dealt with ankle and rib injuries in 2013, and then suffered a hamstring injury in training camp that nagged him for much of the 2014 season. He missed much of the preseason, and reports indicate he came into the regular season out of shape.
There is some concern mentioned about his weight, but without knowing anything specific about his work ethic, it would seem like injuries were the issue that led to conditioning problems. This is something we should find out fairly quickly when the 49ers report to training camp next week. Davis will be down the depth chart, but I imagine he'll get plenty of work in the preseason.
What to expect in 2015:
It is hard to figure out what kind of role he is looking at in 2015. As David discussed in the film breakdown, and Nick also mentioned in this scouting report, Davis is a fit for the 49ers gap scheme. There has been plenty of talk about making a move to more zone blocking, but follow-up discussion has suggested it is more meant to be a mix of blocking schemes.
There is also the chance for injury, particularly given the history of Bush and Hunter. If all running backs are healthy, I would not be surprised if Davis spent a decent amount of the season inactive. A strong showing on preseason special teams would certainly be a boost for him, and he could put together a strong performance in pass protection to earn a chunk of playing time. But keeping four running backs active on game day does not seem like a strong possibility. That would seem to leave Davis battling with Hunter and Bush for whatever he can get in terms of offensive snaps. Does anybody see it differently?
Odds of making the roster:
While he may not get a ton of playing time as a rookie, Davis is not going anywhere. With Bush and Hunter both signed to one-year deals, Davis is a guy who will be looked at as an option to complement Carlos Hyde in the very near future.