49ers' Carlos Hyde sees 2016 as 'make or break' year
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde is eager to see what Chip Kelly's offense can do for his career.
''I'm approaching this year as a make or break year,'' Hyde said. ''I'm going to make it or it ain't going to work. I'm really trying to focus in on this year. To me, this is a huge year.''
Hyde, 24, is hoping his new coach can replicate what he did in Philadelphia, where in 2013 Kelly helped LeSean McCoy lead the NFL with 1,607 yards rushing and helped the Eagles improve from 4-12 to 10-6.
Kelly's up-tempo offense ranked first and ninth on the ground during his first two seasons with Philadelphia, before falling to 14th after McCoy was traded to Buffalo before last season.
When watching McCoy in 2013, Hyde saw an offense that spread defenses out and put the running back in open space against defenders. It led to big plays, which the 49ers struggled to produce in 2015, when they fielded the league's 31st-ranked offense.
''I think what helped LeSean big time getting all those yards was he did a great job making a guy miss,'' Hyde said. ''He'd make a guy miss and he'd break off for about 50 yards for a big touchdown. Instead of just getting tackled for 10 or 11 yards, he's getting explosive gains.''
With Hyde as a centerpiece in his offense, Kelly is tasked with improving San Francisco after it finished 5-11 in 2015. The team fired coach Jim Tomsula after just one season.
''There's a physicality to (Hyde's) game,'' Kelly said. ''I think it makes him a dangerous weapon in terms of being able to not only make people miss, but to kind of go through and to break arm tackles and to gain that tough yardage when it really looks like there's nothing there.''
For Hyde to produce numbers similar to McCoy's, he's going to have to stay healthy. In 2015, the Ohio State alum sat out the final nine games after sustaining a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery. Hyde finished with 470 yards and three touchdowns in his first season as the starter after Frank Gore left to join the Indianapolis Colts following 10 seasons with San Francisco.
Hyde said he's fully recovered from the injury and rehabilitation from surgery didn't slow his work during the offseason program.
''He's been very diligent in terms of how he approached this season, but there are some things that are out of people's control,'' Kelly said. ''I don't know if there's any protocol out there that you can work on to prevent a broken bone.''
The 49ers are planning to have an improved offensive line in front of Hyde. They added guard Zane Beadles in free agency, used a first-round pick on Stanford guard Joshua Garnett and have tackle Anthony Davis back after he retired before last season.
Add in Kelly's signature up-tempo approach and Hyde thinks the 49ers could surprise teams with their running attack by tiring out defenses.
''I'm thinking if they're tired, let's go, let's go, let's go,'' said Hyde. ''Keep your foot on the pedal, press down even harder. … That's what you got to be conditioned for. You got to be in shape, not out of breath, so next play you can come be explosive. So while they're tired, you're still explosive and they're just falling off while you're running.''
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