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Are the 49ers better off without Carlos Hyde next year?

The 49ers are getting a solid season from Carlos Hyde, but the question will come down to value.

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The San Francisco 49ers have a decision to make with regard to pending free agent Carlos Hyde. The running back is in the final year of his rookie contract, and his future remains uncertain. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have said there are contract extension discussions with certain players, but they have not specified who exactly.

Entering the 2017 season, there were questions as to whether or not Hyde would fit in the Shanahan/Turner zone run scheme. Additionally, with the addition of Joe Williams and Matt Breida, there was some thought the team would look for additional options after this season was up.

However, John Lynch has been exuberant in his praise for how Hyde has bought into what they are doing. Hyde has been solidly productive in what has been a lost season for the 49ers. He is on pace for a career high in total yards, and has blown past his career highs in receptions and receiving yards.

But, is it enough to justify a contract extension over a potentially cheaper option? The folks at Numberfire put together a ranking that suggests maybe the 49ers are better moving on. Tip of the cap to Oscar Aparicio for spotting this.

The table looks at rushing success rate for various running backs vs. that of their teammates. Rushing success rate looks at expected points and if the net expected points is greater than zero, the run is a success. Kareem Hunt, Devonta Freeman, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara lead the way. Carlos Hyde’s success rate is 4.6 percent less than that of his running back teammates. Matt Breida is the primary such back, so this is mostly a comparison between the two of them.

Hyde is a solid running back, but the question is whether or not the value is there with a contract extension compared to Breida, Williams, and any additional running backs the 49ers might land this coming offseason.

I decided to take a look at some numbers courtesy of our friends at Pro Football Focus. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they can add some context to the discussion. Rather than focus on grades, I asked PFF for info on their various signature stats. They break down yards before and after contact, missed tackles, and various stats by run scheme.

Here are some stats looking at overall production, and then production on inside vs. outside zone runs.


Hyde: 157 att, 4.07 y/a, 1.35 before contact, 2.72 after contact
Breida: 53 att, 4.36 y/a, 2.34 before contact, 2.02 after contact
NFL avg: 4.23 y/a, 1.62 before contact, 2.62 after contact

Inside zone

Hyde: 55 att, 5.45 y/a, 2.67 before contact, 2.78 after contact, 13 MT forced
Breida: 11 att, 5.18 y/a, 2.55 before contact, 2.64 after contact, 2 MT forced

Outside zone

Hyde: 72 att, 3.36 y/a, 0.56 before contact, 2.81 after contact, 11 MT forced
Breida: 29 att, 4.86 y/a, 3.03 before contact, 1.83 after contact, 2 MT forced

The most interesting comparison here is on outside zone runs. These are all fairly small sample sizes, so we can’t etch anything in stone, but that’s quite the disparity on yards before contact. There is film to break down, but it certainly suggests Breida has been a little more patient in finding the hole and making his move. I chatted with David Neumann, who helped provide these stats, and he thinks Breida does a better job reading outside zone plays better.

29 attempts doesn’t tell us a lot, but that kind of disparity strikes me as notable. And none of this is to say the 49ers absolutely should not extend Carlos Hyde. However, it will come down to the value the 49ers can find. Even a high draft pick could offer a little more value than Hyde from a contract perspective, but it depends on what Hyde wants in a contract, and what is out there if he hits unrestricted free agency.

Do you think the 49ers will extend Hyde at some point?


Will Carlos Hyde be on the 49ers roster Week 1 of the 2018 season?

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