The San Francisco 49ers have had a rough start to the NFL training camp season. Running back LaMichael James was carted off the field with a dislocated elbow over the weekend. This came one day after the team confirmed fellow running back Kendall Hunter’s ACL injury. If you’re counting, that’s two of the teams back up ball carriers out for an extended period of time.
NFL.com reports that only two running backs on the roster are locks to make the team. Frank Gore has been a mainstay for the San Francisco 49ers since 2005, but he’s reaching a point where it’s almost time to give up the reigns a little bit. Frank Gore has rushed for over 1000 yards in seven of his nine seasons, and he has played in all 16 games for three straight seasons.
The other running back is second round pick Carlos Hyde from Ohio State. There was a chance that he would be the future workhorse for the 49ers, but San Francisco wasn’t expecting to count on him as the No.2 guy in 2014. Instead of gradually moving into the lineup, Hyde will have to take a prominent position during training camp.
San Francisco also has Marcus Lattimore, who is currently on the non-football injury list. Lattimore is still recovering from a career threatening knee injury in college.
The good news for LaMichael James is that he is only slated to be out for one month. He should be healthy enough to participate in week one of the NFL season. However, missing the entire training camp could be detrimental to his availability for the 49ers in the future.
In 2013, LaMichael James had 12 carries, but NFL.com noted that James was a key member as a punt and kickoff specialist.
Kendall Hunter carried the ball 78 times for 358 yards and three touchdowns in 2013. Those carries, not including his expanded role, must be replaced by one of the running backs immediately.
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