The San Francisco 49ers running backs struggled in a big way in the second half against the Buffalo Bills. Carlos Hyde rushed for 37 yards in the first half (4.1 ypc), and then 15 yards in the second half (3.0 ypc). Hyde suffered a shoulder injury, and while he did return for some stretches of the second half, we saw more work from the backup running backs. Normal No. 2 Shaun Draughn rushed for two yards on one carry, while normal No. 3 Mike Davis had 13 yards on five carries.
On Monday, Chip Kelly was asked what changed with the use of Davis over Draughn. The reporter asked he had suffered an injury or something else, to which Kelly responded:
“No, he didn’t suffer an injury. I think [RB] Mike [Davis] has just done a nice job and I think Shaun had some opportunities in the Arizona game, but now Mike has done some things in practice. And the other guy is [RB] DuJuan [Harris] that we’ve talked about do we get him up on game day also because he’s another guy that’s shown some things from a practice standpoint to try to really find out who that number two guy is behind [RB] Carlos [Hyde]? So, we’ll see as it goes forward. What we do have to evaluate on is what we do in practice this week in terms of moving forward with who’s going to be really that guy behind Carlos.”
This would seem to suggest we might see the team promote DuJuan Harris from the practice squad. Harris has bounced on and off the 49ers roster, but has yet to play a single snap. He was released as part of final roster cuts, but then re-signed a few days later when the team placed Will Redmond on injured reserve. He was cut when the team signed Chris Harper on the day of their first regular season game (9/12). He was re-signed a day later (9/13). He was on the roster for Week 2 and 3, but was inactive. He was released on October 1 and then signed to the practice squad, where he has remained since.
The 49ers will release their first practice participation report on Wednesday. At that point, we’ll start to get an idea if Hyde’s shoulder injury is something more than just an in-game problem. Hyde left Sunday’s game at the 13:07 mark of the third quarter. Mike Davis took over the snaps. Hyde returned for a couple plays two drives later, but Davis came back on in a failed 4th and 1 run up the middle. Hyde came back for one more play with 21 seconds left in the third quarter, and that was it.
The 49ers gave up a touchdown, fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and then gave up another touchdown to fall behind 38-16. It is possible the team decided not to send Hyde back out given the lead and given the potential to aggravate the shoulder injury. We don’t know for sure, but will find out more with the practice participation reports.