San Francisco 49ers Geared for the Ground
San Francisco could be set to run up a storm with a diverse skillset on the ground for the upcoming season. With the addition of Reggie Bush’s veteran influence on the prodigal Carlos Hyde, the 49ers have several options in their arsenal.
The 49ers had the 4th most rushing yards (2176) in the NFL in 2014. However, that was when Frank Gore ran the show. Not a 49er fan exists that does not lament the loss of Frank Gore, who has been the heart and soul of the team over the past decade. Gore was often the only glimmer of hope during the dog days of underwhelming seasons in the 2000’s. It appeared that the San Francisco coaching staff had their Standard Operating Procedure in place with a “Step 1: Apply Frank Gore, Step 2: Apply Defensive Opportunity” game plan for year after frustrating year.
What’s done is done, Gore is now dressed in blue and white. In his place, the once-heralded and often-injured Reggie Bush looks to prove to the world that he can still electrify a stadium with his raw athletic ability. It’ll be challenging, though, as both injury and ineffectiveness limited Bush to just 76 total carries and 297 total yards last year with the Lions.
Assuming Bush can stay healthy throughout the season, and remain effective, it’s possible that he can help guide the development of Carlos Hyde, who many see as the future backbone of the 49er running corps. Hyde was a rock star at Ohio State, and showed immense potential last season with bone-crushing power and durability. But he’s done nothing yet to prove that he can be the primary back in San Francisco, as he only had 83 total carries in his rookie year, garnering only 333 yards, with double digit carries in only three games.
Kendall Hunter, the longest tenured running back in San Francisco, but coming off an ACL injury that caused him to miss the 2014 season, is also still in the mix. If he returns to 100%, the three-headed attack could resemble this simple approach: Hyde as the every-down, hard hitting bruiser, Bush as the third-down pass catching fire-starter, and Hunter there to find space where there seemingly is none.
In the past ten NFL Drafts, the San Francisco 49ers have selected a running back an astonishing eight times. In fact, Hyde was selected in the second round just last year. Given the tradition of drafting potential gridiron gladiators, one would expect the trend to continue, however there appears to be no indication that the team will select an RB with their top picks this year.
The team will take the field with a very different look and feel this year and many aspects will come into play on all sides of the ball. Moves have been made on defense, the receiving corps, notably on the coaching staff, and now the running squad. It’s anyone’s guess if the formula will work, and the coming season may see the shedding of many recently gained ‘bandwagon’ fans from the success of Harbaugh’s tenure.
Coming into the new season, only one thing is for sure: the true 49er faithful will be there in full regalia. Granted they may also come equipped with a portfolio of ‘friendly suggestions’ to fill the ears of the organization on the field.