The San Francisco 49ers are in a rebuild to be sure, but Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch want to build a team that is competitive sooner rather than later. Is next year an actual possibility for that? Probably not, but it’s a shot for them to take a big step.
I believe the 49ers can’t take that step without running back Carlos Hyde.
Often considered a player woefully underutilized on a bad team, Hyde recently said that he wants to get a win before he talks about his contract with the team. That’s fair, but do the 49ers even want to talk contract with him?
The first priority going forward will be to surround Jimmy Garoppolo with the top tier talent, and Hyde is that. There are still those who undervalue running backs in the NFL, and I think those people are flat-out wrong. Shanahan’s teams typically don’t like to spend big on the position, but Hyde is an elite back on a bad team.
But he could be an elite bad on a middling team, or even a good one if things go really well. Not only is Hyde an effective runner in all situations, he is incredibly solid in pass protection. He always blocks with 100 percent effort, and he consistently engages the proper guy and holds his own.
This season, Hyde has 124 carries for 494 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also caught 40 passes for 268 yards, already a career high in that latter category. He’s looked good in Shanahan’s offense, but has also had some games where he did little. Using those games as a reason for moving on from him would be a mistake.
Some wanted the 49ers to trade Hyde before the deadline hit this season. Others wanted to move on from him in free agency. But I think the 49ers need Hyde, especially with Garoppolo taking over. They want to compete soon, not five years from now. Hyde is crucial to that.