San Francisco 49ers

Hyde helper? 49ers in need of backup runner

Only two NFL running backs have carried the ball more this season than the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde.
Only two NFL running backs have carried the ball more this season than the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde. The Bee

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers on Monday worked out long-time Saints running back Pierre Thomas, a move that underscores their lack of backfield depth beyond starter Carlos Hyde.

Through six games, Hyde's 104 attempts are tied for third most among NFL rushers. His carries, however, may be more brutal than the average tailback's. Defenses are geared to stop the 49ers' rushing attack and Hyde welcomes the contact. According to Pro Football Focus, his 295 yards after contact with a defender trail only the Steelers' Le'Veon Bell (by two yards).

Hyde already has been checked for a concussion (in Week 2), caused a concussion (in Week 5) and is dealing with a painful foot issue that caused him to go down in a heap Sunday and sit out several snaps.

While the 49ers have had excellent backup runners -- Kendall Hunter and Hyde -- in previous seasons, this year no one has stepped confidently into that role.

The 49ers seem hesitant to give Australian Jarryd Hayne any meaningful snaps. He was in on nine offensive plays Sunday but never touched the ball. Fellow rookie Mike Davis is averaging 1.3 yards a carry on his attempts.

The 49ers, of course, planned to alternate Hyde and Reggie Bush this season. But Bush suffered a calf injury almost as soon as the season began and only has four carries through six games.

Hyde's 104 carries might be a lot by NFL standards, but not in context of previous 49ers seasons. Frank Gore had as many as 116 carries through six contests in the past. (He currently has 87 carries with the Colts).

The difference is that Gore was adept at avoiding the big hits that Hyde has been both absorbing and dishing out.

Carries through six games

2015: Carlos Hyde, 104

2014: Frank Gore, 93

2013: Frank Gore, 103

2012: Frank Gore, 87

2011: Frank Gore, 109

2010: Frank Gore, 116

2009: Frank Gore, 52 (two games missed with ankle injury)

2008: Frank Gore, 107

2007: Frank Gore, 98

2006: Frank Gore, 112

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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