Three and Out: Hunter's timeline a bad omen for Crabtree?
In two seasons with the 49ers, Kendall Hunter has racked up 844 yards rushing on 184 rushes (4.6 YPC), with four touchdowns. He also has 25 catches for 255 yards. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
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SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers cleared running back Kendall Hunter to return to the field Saturday morning, in time to participate in the team's open practice at Candlestick Park.
Hunter has been out since Nov. 25 due to a torn left Achilles tendon. His return comes 8 1/2 months after he sustained the injury in a game against the New Orleans Saints.
Hunter served as the 49ers' backup running back behind Frank Gore his first two seasons in the NFL. Last year, he rushed for 371 yards and two touchdowns in 72 rushing attempts in 11 games before his season-ending injury. As a rookie, Hunter gained 473 yards and two touchdowns on 112 rushes.
Hunter will compete against LaMichael James for the backup role this season. With Gore resting and Hunter out of action, James started the 49ers' exhibition opener Thursday night against the Denver Broncos. James carried eight times for 27 yards in the 49ers' 10-6 loss.
Hunter has appeared to be running at full speed since the opening of training camp during his rehab sessions on a side field. He has been seen running full speed, making sudden cuts and performing short sprints while pulling a heavy chain.