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What does 49ers running back rotation tell us about Matt Breida, Tim Hightower?

The 49ers have made some unusual decisions at running back through two preseason games.

The San Francisco 49ers’ run game struggled to get much going against the Denver Broncos, but the depth chart decisions tell us more than anything. Carlos Hyde got the start, but Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs were the primary options behind him. Joe Williams played four offensive snaps and three special teams snaps, and Matt Breida played no offensive snaps and one special teams snap.

In Week 1, Williams and Breida got extensive offensive work, while Hightower (1 special teams snap) and Bibbs (4 special teams snaps) got little work. After Saturday’s game, head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed that was the plan for his game.

“Yeah, that was the plan going in. [RB Tim] Hightower and [RB Kapri] Bibbs didn’t play in the first game, so we’re going to make sure we got them more carries in this game. I think [RB] Joe [Williams] got in there a little at the end of the game. We didn’t expect Matt to get in there this game.”

Do you see this as meaning Breida is all but locked into a roster spot? Or will we simply see a rotation back next week? Breida has been getting a lot of positive press through training camp, with Adam Schefter saying a couple days into camp that Breida was going to make the roster. Do you see that as effectively a done deal?

The other question is what this means for Tim Hightower. He got 15 snaps and had three carries for -1 yards, and one reception for one yard. He is likely making the roster as a passing down option, but could Breida or Williams do enough to convince Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to make a tough call at running back?