Niners' Hyde Still Seeking Breakout Game

Since nice debut against Dallas, rookie running back has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry

Since the day he was drafted, Carlos Hyde has drawn positive reviews from the 49ers.

The former Ohio State running back impressed coaches and teammates throughout training camp, and then made a strong debut in the preseason with three carries for 34 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, in fact, was comparing Hyde to Frank Gore – about the highest compliment possible considering where Gore ranks on the team in respect.

Even in pass protection, running receiving routes and adjusting and learning, Roman has compared Hyde to Gore.

“That’s a Frank Gore-type of trait,” he said in July. “And so far, Carlos has afforded himself very well in that area.”

As the season began, there even was some thought among 49ers observers that Hyde, a 6-foot, 235-pounder, might supplant Gore as the No. 1 running back.

Yet after an impressive Game 1 debut vs. the Cowboys in which he carried the ball just seven times yet ran for 50 yards and a touchdown – a 7.1-yard average per carry – Hyde hasn’t wowed on the stat sheet. In the six games since, he’s carried 41 times for 111 yards – a 2.7 average. For the season, he’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry and run for two scores.

Gore, meanwhile, is still No. 1. He’s had two 100-yard rushing games and has 423 yards rushing and a 4.1-yard average. When the 49ers have given him the ball – as they did in back-to-back victories over the Eagles and Chiefs – Gore has set the tone for the offense.

So has Hyde been disappointing?

Yes and no.

Yes in that he hasn’t yet had a big breakthrough game or outperformed Gore. But no, in that the coaches still like what they see and Hyde has some numbers that may not be noticeable to many fans.

According to Pro Football Focus, Hyde is the best in the league at yards after contact, with 5 or more yards gained after contact on 10 carries.

Plus, the 49ers offensive line hasn’t yet been what it has been the past few seasons. Running lanes have been harder to find this season with guards Alex Boone and Mike Iupati, tackle Anthony Davis and center Daniel Kilgore all missing in action at some point.

After this week’s bye week, it’s possible that the 49ers running attack may soon prosper with Davis, Iupati and Boone back on the field (though Marcus Martin likely will have some growing pains at center to replace Kilgore).

If that happens, it’s very possible that Hyde’s numbers over the final nine games could be much better than in the first seven.

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