Programming note: For comprehensive 49ers coverage from Santa Clara, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6, 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
SANTA CLARA – Carlos Hyde has impressed 49ers coaches with his football acumen. And he looks the part on the field, too.
But Hyde’s quick movement of the depth chart has been more about the misfortune of others, rather than his own impressive play.
Running back Kendall Hunter, the 49ers’ primary backup to Frank Gore the past three seasons, sustained a torn ACL in his right knee during the second practice of training camp. Then, LaMichael James dislocated his right elbow during a routine blitz pick-up drill.
“It definitely changes the amount of reps I’ve been getting,” Hyde said of the injuries. “I got a little more on my plate now. But it’s good. I appreciate it.”
Now, there’s no question Hyde is No. 2 on the depth chart after the 49ers selected him in the second round of the draft. Many considered Hyde the top running back in the draft after rushing for 2,500 yards and 31 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Ohio State.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has already observed Hyde’s ability to digest offensive concepts as he learns the 49ers’ playbook.
“As you’re describing it to him, certain guys can just know immediately what you’re describing because they saw that snapshot in their head and it immediately makes sense to them,” Roman said. “And they’re not seeing words coming out of your mouth, they’re seeing a picture. I think Carlos, up until this point at least, has displayed that kind of characteristic.
“I think for running backs it’s a great thing because they have so many adjustments to make in protection, and even it’s simply running the football, seeing things moving in front of them, things in constant motion and reacting to that quickly. And that’s a Frank Gore type of trait, and so far, Carlos has afforded himself very well in that area.”
There is little time to waste for Hyde, as the 49ers figure to be counting on him to play a significant role, beginning Sept. 7 when they open the regular season at the Dallas Cowboys.
Said Hyde, “It’s starting to click. I’ve been able to be relaxed, play fast, know my job and execute.”