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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: RB Carlos Hyde

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Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). We move on to running back Carlos Hyde.

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 you get the idea.

In 2015 Carlos Hyde was the 49ers Icarus. He sprouted wings and flew oh so close to those bright Monday Night lights. His 168-yard, two touchdown, performance in week 1 excited the fan base and vindicated the decision to let Frank Gore sign with another team. Hyde spun his way into the hearts of fans everywhere, looking like a god-send that could potentially carry the team to mediocrity.

After that week one explosion Hyde never broke the century mark again and it became clear a running back could not lift his offensive line to competence. In week seven Hyde suffered a stress fracture in his foot that would eventually land him on injured reserve. He finished the year with 470 yards, a 4.1 yards per carry average, and three touchdowns. Despite flying so high in week one Hyde finished the season ranked 23rd out of 44 eligible running backs based on DYAR.

Basic Info

Age: 24
Experience: 3rd season
Height: 6’0
Weight: 235 lbs

Cap status

Hyde is playing in the third year of his rookie deal and has a cap hit just north of $1 million next season. The contract is obviously not a concern at this point.

Why he might improve

Chip Kelly’s system is tailor made for a back like Carlos Hyde. Kelly’s offensive system is built on the inside zone a play that caters to Hyde’s down-hill, one-cut, style. His second touchdown against Minnesota, an outside zone play where he turns upfield on a dime, illustrates a skill set suited for Kelly’s run game. Production in a zone-based run scheme dates all the way back to college where he flourished in Urban Meyer’s spread option offense. Kelly’s system also provides a ton of opportunity for Hyde. Over the 3 years that the Eagles ran Kelly’s offense the team ranked no worse than 11th in rushing attempts.

In 2015 the offensive line, particularly the right side, was a hot mess. Marcus Martin and Jordan Devey ranked at or near the bottom of their respective positional categories for nearly their entire tenure. Right tackle Erik Pears was not far behind. Center Daniel Kilgore and rookie Joshua Garnett will certainly bolster the line, even if Pears returns for another lackluster season. Improved play from the line can only help Hyde’s performance in 2016.

Even with a sub-par line, Hyde is adept at creating yards on his own. At the end of week nine, Hyde still ranked second in forced-missed tackles (25) despite playing more than two fewer games than his counterparts. He finished the season leading the league in elusiveness.

Why he might regress

If Hyde has a lack luster year it will likely be due to an ineffective 49ers team that finds itself down on the scoreboard often. You run when you win and the 49ers may not win many games this season. Earlier I mentioned that Chip Kelly’s teams have ranked highly in terms of run attempts, but these were also 10-win teams. Kelly might want to give Hyde all the opportunities in the world, but the game situations might simply prevent that eventuality.

There’s also durability - the primary limiter to Hyde thus far in his career. In two professional seasons Hyde has suffered two injuries that forced him to miss time. In 2014 he missed the final two games due to a back injury. In 2015 a stress fracture in his foot forced him to miss nine games.

Sure, Chip Kelly loves his running back rotation and will likely spell Hyde with role-playing running backs. But Hyde is clearly head and shoulders above the other backs on the roster and the play time will reflect that. So as long as Hyde stays healthy he will, simply by virtue of playing a full year, have the highest rushing total of his career.

Odds of making the roster

Not only will Hyde make the roster, but he will be the lead back in a system that utilizes his strengths as a runner. If Hyde can stay healthy, and the 49ers can stay somewhat competitive, he should approach a 1,000 yard season.