The San Francisco 49ers are in their bye week after playing seven games on their 2016 regular season schedule. Well, I can just call it their 2016 schedule, because there will not be any playoffs this year. Whatever the case, the team is just under halfway through their schedule, so the timing of the bye works for providing some midseason thoughts on the roster.
The team has a ton of question marks heading into the second half of the season, and the potential of a new general manager after the season means roster predictions are tough to assess. That being said, I thought we’d look at each position group and consider where it currently stands, who the teams own free agents are next year, and what the draft class looks like. Rather than dive into the mess that is quarterback, I thought we would start at the running back position.
Depth chart: Carlos Hyde, DuJuan Harris, Shaun Draughn, Mike Davis
Practice squad: Kelvin Taylor
Carlos Hyde: 109 rushes, 429 yards (3.9 ypc), 6 TD, 1 fumble; 13 receptions, 66 yards
Shaun Draughn: 27 rushes, 71 yards (2.6 ypc), 1 TD, 9 receptions, 60 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble
DuJuan Harris: 11 rushes, 39 yards (3.5 ypc), 2 receptions, 18 yards
Mike Davis: 17 rushes, 39 yards (2.3 ypc), 1 TD, 2 receptions, 16 yards
Where things stand
Carlos Hyde is currently dealing with a shoulder injury that kept him out of the team’s Week 7 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has said he expects to be back for Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints. The trainers have final say, so we’ll see what that brings.
Hyde was the work horse prior to his injury, and remains on pace to set the franchise rushing touchdown record. The problem is the injury. He missed most of last season with a foot fracture, and now has this shoulder injury. His punishing physical style is what allows him to be among the league leaders in broken tackles and yards after contact, but it also sets up potentially recurring injury concerns.
Davis got the start in place of Hyde this past week, but ended up getting outpaced by both Harris and Draughn in the snap count. Davis had five carries in the first half, and only two in the second half. While Draughn and Harris were found in the bargain bin of free agency midway through last season, the 49ers spent a fourth round pick on Davis in 2015. Davis averaged 1.7 yards per carry on 35 rushing attempts in 2015. This year, he is averaging 2.3 yards per carry on 17 rushing attempts.
49ers 2017 free agents
Carlos Hyde is a free agent after the 2018 season. The 49ers will be allowed to negotiate a contract extension with Hyde once this current season ends.
Hyde is the most talented back on the roster by a long shot, and is among the most talented in the NFL. But if his bruising running style is going to lead to these kinds of injuries, the 49ers need to figure something out. I could see them extending Draughn or Harris as insurance, but it makes sense to start looking for more significant solutions. We see more teams going to more of a two-headed monster, with the Atlanta Falcons serving as the best example with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
I don’t think we see the 49ers invest a ton in the position this offseason, but it’s a tough one to figure for them. There are a few positions where they clearly need to add more talent. Those include quarterback, wide receiver, inside linebacker, and outside linebacker. They need talent at most other position, but those would be four positions of particular need. Running back is an area of some more stability, but I would be surprised if the went in particularly heavy at the position.
2017 NFL Draft top prospects
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Dalvin Cook, Florida State
Christian McCraffrey, Stanford
Royce Freeman, Oregon
Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Wayne Gallman, Clemson
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State
Jalen Hurd, Tennessee
Tarean Folston, Notre Dame