Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers Rookie Fantasy Spotlight

Carlos Hyde, RB San Francisco 49ers Rookie Fantasy Spotlight
Byron Lambert,

Carlos Hyde caught the attention of many football fans with his Orange Bowl explosion against Clemson back in January. We quickly contacted Senior Bowl officials to find out he had tentatively accepted a Senior Bowl invitation. Although he eventually pulled out of the event- we had already amassed a comprehensive scouting report on Hyde during our Senior Bowl preparations.

Hyde and Jeremy Hill, of LSU were neck-and-neck for the top spot among “big backs” in our NFL Draft prospect rankings. Both are powerful and explosive, yet agile with receiving skills. Naturally (and deservedly) they both drew Eddie Lacy comparisons. As much as we like the two, we think that’s at least a bit of an overshot. Hyde has good feet, not great feet – Lacy’s feet are great. Hyde also has a longer stride. He reminds us most of an ultra explosive, more dynamic version of Shonn Greene. Doesn’t sound sexy, but if you think about it- that’s a pretty good NFL player.

We love that Hyde landed in San Francisco. He’s a clear system fit.

Yes, Frank Gore continues to prove the doubters wrong, and even when we asked GM Trent Baalke about his $7M salary at age 31 – he didn’t blink an eye. However, the Niners aren’t moving quickly to extend Gore, either.

By paying him handsomely this year, they will be able to rationalize letting Gore play out the final year of his contract, and let him hit free agency after the season without much remorse or hard feelings. Arguably, Gore should have been forced to take a pay cut this year. Maybe they re-sign him, maybe they don’t. The front office probably isn’t sure either. It’s why the team drafted Hyde so early.

One thing we’ve learned is that when front offices make bold moves for rookies, the writing is typically on the wall for a veteran. Sooner than later this will be Hyde’s backfield. If the team has any hope of Gore in the mix next year, they’ll need to spell him early and often with Hyde this year. At worst, this is a two-year timeshare for Hyde. One where he may have the lead role by 2015, and should be a goal-line threat early.

Some will point to a crowded backfield with Marcus Lattimore still in the mix. We are some of Lattimore’s biggest fans. We loved his NFL potential, and we love his personality, his character as a young man, and his comeback story. In the end, it’s just too tough to trust a guy who reportedly still hasn’t regained his explosiveness and confidence after almost two years. With the gruesome (now – plural – injuries) Lattimore has suffered, you wonder if he ever will. It’s another reason the team used a valuable second-round pick on Hyde, just one year after taking Lattimore much higher in the NFL Draft than many teams would have.

Hyde is a matchup-play flex option as a rookie, and one of fantasy’s most important handcuffs. He has value as a rookie in redraft leagues in rounds eight and beyond. His longterm prospects in Dynasty Leagues are phenomenal as he sets up to be the feature running back of the future in one of the NFL’s best power running offenses behind an unbelievable offensive line. Reports from Niners training camp are glowing so far.

If Gore goes down this season, with Kendall Hunter now sidelined, Hyde becomes absolute fantasy gold.

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