How much will 49ers RB Carlos Hyde play this season?
It all depends on how well he does in pass protection. The 49ers have not seen Hyde or Marcus Lattimore in pads. If they are slow to pick up the nuances of the 49ers’ blitz pickup packages – or are not physically able to carry out their assignments – then, there’s no way either is going to get onto the field for significant playing time this season.
Kendall Hunter, the 49ers’ backup running back in each of his three seasons with the club, is very underrated in all aspects. But the 49ers rate him highly. And that's all that matters. Until Hyde or Lattimore prove themselves, the 49ers’ coaching staff is going to stick with Hunter because they know he can be trusted.
Hunter has a 4.6-yard rushing average in his three seasons as Gore’s primary backup. That's not too shabby. He also has a firm grasp of the team’s protections. And despite his smallish stature, he does a fine job of executing his duties.
There is no guarantee that Hyde will pass Hunter (or Gore) on the depth chart this season, but if either falters, the rookie could see some playing time, especially if he continues to run and catch the ball well. Given his late-season performance in 2013, we're not terribly bullish on Gore, though he usually is able to outperform his ADP.