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2017 NFL free agency preview: How much should the 49ers invest at running back?

With free agency approaching, it is time to run down the 49ers roster, looking at cap space and free agency possibilities.

The NFL is less than two weeks away from the start of free agency! The NFL Combine will keep us occupied in the meantime, but there is plenty to figure out in the meantime. The 49ers have a lot of holes to fill, and with 11 draft picks and a ton of cap space, they have a lot of options at their disposal.

Over the next two weeks, we are going to take a look at each major position group on the 49ers roster. We’ll take a look at the 49ers current situation, impending free agents, and look at the top five or ten players set to hit the market. Today, we move on to the running back position.

Current roster

Carlos Hyde

Base: $822,047
Prorated bonus: $249,396
Workout bonus: $100,000

Cap hit: $1,771,443

Mike Davis

2017 Base: $615,000
Prorated bonus: $117,195

2017 Cap hit: $822,195

2018 Base: $705,000
Prorated bonus: $117,195

2017 Cap hit: $822,195

Raheem Mostert

Base: $615,000

Cap hit: $615,000

Free agents: Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris

The 49ers invested a second round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft in Carlos Hyde, but otherwise have not invested much in the position. Mike Davis was a fifth round pick in 2015, while Raheem Mostert was signed off the street.

The team’s two free agents at the position, Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris, were both signed during the 2015 season when Hyde and Reggie Bush suffered what would prove to be season-ending injuries. Draughn and Harris both were solid for the 49ers, but neither has been viewed as a long-term option to complement Hyde.

This offseason marks the first time the 49ers can extend Hyde under the current CBA. Hyde is signed through the upcoming season, which would normally give the team time to make a decision on how to pursue negotiations. However, with Hyde entering the final season of his contract, they need to have some thoughts by the time free agency and the draft arrive. They could wait until next year, but I think regardless of what they decide with regard to Hyde, they will be addressing the running back position in some form or fashion.

2017 NFL free agency

The running back position is fairly strong in the 2017 NFL Draft, particularly at the top of the board. While there are quite a few teams with significant cap space heading into free agency, it seems like big deals are a little less likely at the running back position. Players will get signed, and there will be some decent money handed out, but barring Le’Veon Bell not getting tagged, I just don’t see a lot of teams investing heavily in the position. Eddie Lacy, Latavius Murray, and LeGarrette Blount are three of the more interesting free agents, but I don’t even see them getting big money.

We don’t know exactly what the 49ers have planned for the ground game, but I imagine Kyle Shanahan would like a complement to Carlos Hyde given how well Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman worked together. Even if Shanahan makes adjustments to his offense given the 49ers personnel, having a second strong running back is never a bad thing.

Do the 49ers invest in a decent option on the open market? Or do they try and get some help from a deeper draft market? Here’s the full list of free agent running backs.

Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Reggie Bush, Buffalo Bills
Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati Bengals
Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati Bengals
Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys
Justin Forsett, Denver Broncos
Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Christine Michael, Green Bay Packers
Jonathan Grimes, Houston Texans
Jordan Todman, Indianapolis Colts
Robert Turbin, Indianapolis Colts
Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
Benny Cunningham, Los Angeles Rams
Chase Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams
Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints
Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints
Bobby Rainey, New York Giants
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Danny Woodhead, Los Angeles Chargers
Dexter McCluster, Los Angeles Chargers
Ronnie Hillman, Los Angeles Chargers
Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers
DuJuan Harris, San Francisco 49ers
Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Antone Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers