The San Francisco 49ers kick off their rookie minicamp on Thursday, and with OTAs getting started in two weeks, now seems like a good time to start assessing what the 2016 NFL Draft means to the roster. We're going to run through each position on the depth chart and take a preliminary look at how the draft picks might impact it, as well as an initial thought on the bubble watch. Today, we move on to the running back position.
Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis, Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, Jarryd Hayne, Kelvin Taylor, Kendall Gaskins
Like the QB position, the 49ers spent a sixth round pick on a running back in the 2016 NFL Draft, drafting Florida product Kelvin Taylor. The team also signed Shaun Draughn to a one-year contract extension in early March. They join a group that includes starter Carlos Hyde, who is signed through 2017 on his rookie deal, and Mike Davis, who is signed through 2018 on his rookie deal. DuJuan Harris signed a two-year deal with the 49ers when he signed with them late last year, so he is signed through 2016. Kendall Gaskins is signed through 2016 as well, but would be an exclusive rights free agent at the end of his contract. Jarryd Hayne is signed through 2017, having signed a 3-year deal when he was promoted to the 53-man roster late in the season.
Unlike the quarterback position, rookie running back Kelvin Taylor has a chance of having some kind of impact on the running back depth chart. He is certainly not guaranteed a roster spot, but after Carlos Hyde, the depth chart has a lot of questions. Mike Davis was a fourth round pick last year, and injuries cost him most of the season. He was not overly effective when healthy, but I just don't see him getting cut after only one season. Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris both came off the street after injuries decimated the 49ers depth chart. Jarryd Hayne is entering only his second offseason of professional football. And Kendall Gaskins is a deep option that is likely competing for a practice squad spot.
Some have already disagreed, but I don't see Davis losing his job this year. The changing coaching staff does raise some questions about a lot of players, but for now, I'll stick with Davis making the roster. After that, DuJuan Harris could be an intriguing fit in Chip Kelly's offense. Jarryd Hayne is an intriguing player just based on a small sample size of preseason work. But really it's just a lot of guys with questionable ceilings competing for opportunities behind Carlos Hyde.
A lot of people think Shaun Draughn is a lock, or close to a lock to make the roster. He did some very serviceable work last season after Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush got hurt, but as I said in his 90-in-90 piece, I think that was just about his ceiling at this point. Consider me a skeptic for the time being.
I decided to try a different poll question for this one. Of the running backs competing for roster spots, who ends up getting the most snaps after Carlos Hyde. This is assuming everybody is healthy. That is not how it will play out, but for simplicity's sake, just assume all the running backs are healthy the whole year. If that's the case, who will end up with the second most touches (carries + receptions)?