NFC West Questions: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Can Carlos Hyde replace Frank Gore?
When the 49ers drafted Carlos Hyde with the 57th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, many expected Hyde to immediately overtake Frank Gore as the top RB on the depth chart. This hope was never met, and Hyde was largely disappointing. Hyde was only the 56th best fantasy RB in 2014, while Frank Gore was 17th best. This offseason, Frank Gore signed with Indianapolis, and Hyde has since shot up draft boards to the #15 RB off the board. It is likely that Hyde should be ranked above Gore simply as an NFL talent, but the situation that Hyde is now in is worse than Gore left it.
The most outstanding loss for the 49ers this offseason was Mike Iupati, one of the best run blocking guards in the league. The 49ers lost many other pieces on defense, including Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith. While this should not directly affect Hyde’s performance, I believe it will indirectly cause the 49ers to become more of a passing offense. In general, I believe their roster is far worse than a year ago, which will cause them to be down in a lot of games. We know when teams are down the quickest way to score points are through the passing game. Besides, the 49ers have been transitioning to more of a passing team over the past couple seasons. Their offseason departures will only add fuel to that fire. Who knows, maybe their new regime realizes that they need to play old school 49ers football and get back to the running game, but I doubt it. Throw all of that together, and I find it hard to project Hyde as a guy who can truly replace Gore. This is not to say he will bad, but I think drafting him as a top 15 RB might be a mistake. I see him as a lower end RB2, so I’m not too far behind, but be careful to jump on the Carlos Hyde hype train as draft season approaches.