49ers RB Carlos Hyde 'still the favorite' to start, but 'will have to earn it'

Very few players have secured their starting jobs for the upcoming season. Carlos Hyde is not among those.

He is entering the final year of his contract, and we all know how badly Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner wanted Joe Williams in the draft. Shanahan and Turner would not have stood on the table for Williams if they did not have a clear vision for how he fits into their offensive plan.

Hyde is an immensely talented running back whose bid for 1,000 yards came up just 12 yards short due to a late-season knee injury. He is healthy. But he is learning a new system. Shanahan and Turner hand-picked a running back they believe best-fits the requirements of the position in their scheme.

Hyde is probably still the favorite to win the starting job, but he will have to earn it. However it shakes out, it is probably safe to assume the club will employ more of a backs-by-committee approach with Williams and Tim Hightower available for key roles.

Fantasy Impact: 

In 20 games over the past two seasons, Hyde has averaged 16.6 carries for 73 yards and 0.45 touchdowns. His 13.9 PPG (PPR) in that span is better than what Frank Gore averaged as the #12 fantasy running back last season. Hyde’s injury history is concerning, as is Kyle Shanahan’s infatuation with rookie Joe WIlliams. He’s a risky pick given all that’s going on in the San Francisco backfield. WIlliams' 12th-round ADP makes him an attractive attrition play.

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