New San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly has had the opportunity to handpick three running backs in his last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, he was behind the team’s decision to trade for Darren Sproles, and in 2015, he signed both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency.
He might not have that same opportunity in San Francisco, but it probably won’t matter anyway — the 49ers already have a running back that Kelly believes in.
Via Eric Branch on Twitter via KNBR:
Chip Kelly on @KNBR: "I am a huge Carlos Hyde fan." #49ers
Some might see Kelly’s comments as simple coach-speak — what else do you expect him to say? However, Hyde was the only player Kelly said this about in his interview.
Hyde also fits the bill as a perfect fit for Kelly’s offensive system based on his running style. Hyde has the ability plant and explode north-south with little wasted movement from side to side.
Hyde finished with Pro Football Focus’ second-best "elusive rating" in 2015 — an advanced stat used to determine a runner’s efficiency independent of his blocking. He forced 32 missed tackles on just 115 carries with a 2.83 yards after contact per attempt average. In 2014, Hyde forced 25 missed tackles on just 83 carries, per PFF.
Hyde recently underwent surgery on his foot, but he is expected to be ready for the 49ers’ offseason program. Hyde has flashed in his first two NFL seasons, but a full season in Kelly’s system could be just what he needs for a true breakout performance.