The San Francisco 49ers lost depth at the running back position after last season. Rugby star Jarryd Hayne retired to persue his Olympic Rugby dream. Reggie Bush, the back who tried to fill the void left by Carlos Hyde when Hyde missed games due to injury in 2015, left as a free agent. Though Hayne and Bush have moved on, the 49ers have been constantly searching for running back help to improve the roster for the 2016 season.
San Francisco 49ers Running Back Roster Projections
Carlos Hyde is by far the best running back the 49ers have on the roster. At 6’0″ and 235 pounds, Hyde brings a load between the tackles. Hyde is a perfect fit to be the successor to Frank Gore and has a similar running style. Though Hyde only played in seven games last season, he racked up 470 yards with a 4.1 per-carry average. However, Hyde’s only real weakness is his pass blocking ability. Pass blocking is an important component to becoming a complete back in the NFL. Unfortunately, Hyde needs to improve on this. Hopefully he can stay healthy this season, as the 49ers running game is not the same without him.
DuJuan Harris was a contributor on offense at the end of last season for San Francisco. He played two games in which he gained 140 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Harris is the best receiving back on the team and will be useful in Chip Kelly’s offense. Harris ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in 2011. He uses his quickness to be elusive and gain extra yards after the catch. Harris will find his niche on Kelly’s roster this season.
Though Shaun Draughn is not as strong as Carlos Hyde, he is still good between the tackles. Draughn also has the ability to catch from the backfield if necessary. Draughn signed a one-year deal with the 49ers on March 2, 2016. He is 28 years old and has played in the NFL for five years. Look for him to complement Harris as a utility back catching screens and play-action passes in the flat. If needed, Draughn can also be used to give Hyde a breather and should be guaranteed a spot on the team.
Kelvin Taylor was drafted by the 49ers earlier this year. He is the son of former Jacksonville Jaguar great Fred Jackson. Kelvin Taylor is proud of his NFL heritage and his father’s accomplishments. “I think it’s pretty cool, actually,” Taylor said. “I like it. I’m just so honored to have a father like that. Very blessed, just to pick his brain and just try to be the great pro that he was.” Taylor possesses good vision and ball control. In fact, he only fumbled one time in 509 carries in college at the University of Florida. Taylor also fits the Gore-Hyde mold, which is why he was so appealing to Kelly during the draft. Taylor will make the 49ers roster and may even fight for the number two running back spot.