Shaun Draughn Shows 49ers He Can Help

Though 49ers hope Hyde can return for Seattle game, Draughn demonstrated he can be an effective, short-term replacement

The 49ers hope that a bye week will allow running back Carlos Hyde to get back on the field for the game at Seattle on Nov. 22.

Certainly, the second-year running back is a huge plus when he’s in the lineup. In seven games he’s rushed for 470 yards, three touchdowns and has an average of 4.1 yards per carry. He’s had a couple of big games this season, including a 168-yard rushing game in the season-opening win over the Vikings and a 93-yard effort in a narrow loss to the Giants.

But Hyde hasn’t played since the Oct. 22 loss to the Seahawks, when he carried the ball just six times for 55 yards. He’d been playing on a left foot that sustained a hairline fracture in the game against the Giants, and had been limited in his ability to cut. Finally, the 49ers gave him some time off to heal. After missing games against the Rams and Falcons, he now has a bye week, and hopes to be able to return in the rematch against Seattle. Niners head coach Jim Tomsula said this week that Hyde is “day to day.”

In the absence of Hyde and Reggie Bush – who suffered a season-ending injury against the Rams – the 49ers signed veteran running backs Pierre Thomas and Shaun Draughn leading up to the Atlanta game, and both fared well in San Francisco’s 17-16 upset victory. Thomas carried just four times for 12 yards. Draughn was the team’s workhorse, carrying 16 times for 58 yards, including a 30-yard gain, and added four catches for 38 yards.

Draughn, 27, especially, was a pleasant surprise. The journeyman from North Carolina, who’s played for five other teams since his rookie season of 2011, had gained just 31 yards since 2012. Overall, he’s been with eight NFL organizations. But against Atlanta, he was the starter.

Though the 49ers hope they don’t have to call much on him again – if Hyde can get back in the lineup – it appears the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Draughn may give the team an effective short-term replacement, along with Thomas.

After his Sunday performance, Draughn told a writer for the team’s website that he’s just grateful to get another chance to play football.

“I’d been praying for this opportunity for so long,” Draughn said. “Eight teams, that doesn’t happen often. Especially when you skip from team to team and then you come in one week and you’re starting, that doesn’t happen. I’m just thankful and humble for the opportunity that the coaches gave me.”

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