49ers’ may add running back depth with Felix Jones and Michael Bush

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

A lot can happen in two days, just ask the San Francisco 49ers as they lost two of their top three running backs in RB Kendall Hunter (torn ACL) and RB LaMichael James (dislocated elbow). A once crowded backfield, the 49ers will now have to rework their roster while adding more competition at the tailback position. We all know that RB Frank Gore is the entrenched starter but what about rookie second-round pick (No. 57) RB Carlos Hyde and RB Marcus Lattimore?

49ers.com

49ers.com

Two players that have worlds of potential, it was Hyde who I believed would win the short-yardage role. A role that was made vacant due to the departure of RB Anthony Dixon to the Buffalo Bills, Hyde has the patience, power, and agility to fulfill that role. A bruising runner between the tackles, it’s no wonder Hyde was my pick as the running back to push Lattimore back in May and not Hunter or James.

Now, with both Hunter and James sidelined for the foreseeable future where does that leave the running back position? Certainly running backs coach Tom Rathman would love more competition, and with second-year RB Jewel Hampton continuing to shine, that’s not enough competition in training camp, leaving me to believe that veterans will most likely be sought after.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Two names that fit that mold are RB Felix Jones and RB Michael Bush. In six seasons in the NFL, Jones had amassed 2,912 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. A more of a slasher type-runner who can make plays in space, as he has sub 4.4 40-yard speed, Jones would be a nice alternative considering what’s out there. Not to mention, he provides more value in the return game as he has 87 career kick returns for 2,044 return yards and one touchdown, do not be surprised if Niners GM Trent Baalke gives him a call.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Another player that may be in the discussion is Bush. A former Bay Area player as Bush played for the Oakland Raiders he may be a big back on their short list. Bush, who is considered more of a downhill runner would fit the 49ers scheme to a tee in terms of his vertical running-style. When we interviewed FB Bruce Miller the other day he alluded to that type of presence as he said:

Ben MArgot/AP

Ben MArgot/AP

With Bush likely to garner some immediate attention as he has 3,250 career rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, he’s another runner that would create competition. Remember former 49ers’ RB Brandon Jacobs? He was a similar type of player who can get tough yards between the tackles against a stacked box.

As the 49ers do their due diligence, do not be surprised if one or both of these players are given tryouts as they add some type of dimension considering the saturated free-agent market.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.

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