Eight times in the past 10 NFL drafts, including the last six straight, the San Francisco 49ers have selected a running back.
Paging Frank Gore (2005, third round), Thomas Clayton (2007, sixth round), Glen Coffee (2009, third round), Anthony Dixon (2010, sixth round), Kendall Hunter (2011, fourth round), LaMichael James (2012, second round), Marcus Lattimore (2013, fourth round) and Carlos Hyde (2014, second round).
Not exactly a bountiful harvest, right?
Sure, running backs have a relatively short shelf life in the NFL, but only Hunter and Hyde remain on the Niners roster less than two weeks before the 2015 draft gets underway.
And yet, it seems unlikely the 49ers will use one of their nine picks on a running back. That’s what was gleaned from what general manager Trent Baalke told reporters at Levi’s Stadium Friday in singing the praises of his team’s three-headed rushing attack for next season with nine-year veteran Reggie Bush joining as a free agent.
We’ve already gone over what Hyde (every down between-the-tackles back), Hunter (in-space back coming back from an ACL injury) and Bush (third-down pass-catching back) bring to the table, while generalizing.
But Baalke was, in his own way, more succinct.
“We’re excited, in a sense, that Carlos got a little bit of time last year to show what he can do,” Baalke said of Hyde, who averaged 4.0 yards on 83 carries and scored four touchdowns as a rookie. “Now he’s going to have to do that on a consistent basis. He came back from the short break that they had in excellent condition; he’s at the lowest body weight he’s been at, dating back into college.”
Listed at 235 pounds last year, the 6-foot Hyde is now in “the mid-220’s,” Baalke said, “and looking extremely good.”
Baalke added that Hunter is coming off the knee injury “extremely well” before talking about Bush.
“If you talk to anybody that’s out there, anyone that thinks Reggie Bush has lost a step may want to wait and hold their thinking on that,” Baalke said. “He looks extremely good and he’s a pro. He’s here early every day, takes great care of his body and is really engaged in the process right now, so we feel good about that.”
Whether the Niners select a running back on draft day really will tell that tale though.