After an underwhelming 2014 season in which the San Francisco 49ers missed the postseason altogether, an even crazier offseason ensued.
Jim Harbaugh and the club "mutually parted ways" and Jim Tomsula was brought in as the new head man. Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith and Anthony Davis all retired. Frank Gore was shipped to Indianapolis. Torrey Smith was signed to bolster the wide receiving corps.
With Gore gone, the assumed lead back is second-year man Carlos Hyde. Drafted out of Ohio State in 2014, ESPN analysts pegged Hyde as the best back in the draft class.
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"He’s got the size and power you look for," Todd McShay noted of Hyde. "He hates getting tackled. He lowers his shoulder, he runs with a really good pad level, and he drives his legs to finish runs. In addition to all that, he’s got pretty good speed and catches the ball well. Most importantly, he can get on the field right away because he can block… Hyde’s skillset is similar to Arian Foster. Obviously size/power, but he also has lateral agility and body control to quickly get in and out of creases."
With opportunities abound, the player to emerge in 2015 will be Carlos Hyde. Of course the 49ers still have Kendall Hunter, Mike Davis and newly acquired Reggie Bush in the mix for touches. But Hyde showed promise during his rookie season in limited playing time, logging 333 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
What favors Hyde is the new zone concepts expected to be implemented into the 49ers rushing attack, something he is familiar with from his Ohio State days. Hyde also dropped a reported 15 pounds from last season’s playing weight, according to 49ers GM Trent Baalke.
The door is open for Hyde in 2015, one that should be a promising one for the young back.
"I think Carlos Hyde is the future," Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said after the 2014 draft. "He’s a great receiver out of the backfield. got a good second-gear burst (and) wants to be a power ‘back. If you had to pick one running back in [the 2014] class and say, ‘He’s going to be the next Frank Gore,’ it would be Carlos Hyde."