INDIANAPOLIS -- Chip Kelly said Thursday that he won't remove from Carlos Hyde's game the aspect that makes the running back unique: His punishing style.
"You're not going to take that away from him," the 49ers coach said. "I think that's a strength of his. A lot of times guys get hurt when they're not delivering the blow, they're accepting the blow. I look at that (physical style) as a positive."
Hyde has not made it through a full season in his two years with the 49ers.
He suffered an ankle injury at the end of 2014 while serving as Frank Gore's backup. Last year, he suffered a stress fracture in his foot in Week 5, then eventually was placed on injured reserve. He had surgery to repair the foot at the end of the season and is currently rehabilitating.
Kelly predicted that Hyde would fit well in his offense -- "He's going to be fun to work with," he said -- but stopped short of saying how carries will be distributed. In Philadelphia last year, three running backs -- DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles -- had at least 83 snaps.
Kelly said he didn't know yet whether Hyde could be a back who gets 25 carries a game. "I don't know what the VO2 max levels* are, what his work capacity is," he said.
He did say, however, that he thought the 49ers had a good, deep group of running backs, many of whom saw extensive action last year because of Hyde's injury.
That group includes Mike Davis, DuJuan Harris, Kendall Gaskins and Aussie Jarryd Hayne, whom Kelly expected to make a "jump" in his second season of NFL football.
Kelly also said the team was interested in re-signing Shaun Draughn, who started six games for the 49ers and who will be an unrestricted free agent in March.
"Some of those other guys -- they were impressive down the stretch there," Kelly said. "And guys they got off the street. There's some talent at the running back spot."
Kelly mentioned safety, running back and tight end as the deepest and most impressive on the squad.
*A person’s VO2 level is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during exercise.