The San Francisco 49ers have lost two key running backs to injuries in the last week with LaMichael James suffering a dislocated elbow and Kendall Hunter tearing an ACL.
James is expected to be back within a month, but Hunter is lost for the season. The Niners were looking solid at that position before training camp began, but now they’re in a position where things could be looking mighty bleak if they lose one or two more backs before the start of the season.
The 49ers still have their two best running backs healthy in Frank Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde, but if something happens to one of them, the Niners are going to be up the creek without a paddle.
The Niners have 2nd year running back Marcus Lattimore, who actually be the most talented back on the team, but his status is unknown for the season because he’s still trying to come back from a terrible knee injury from the 2012 season while playing college for South Carolina. He’s not ready to play and there are major question marks as to whether he ever will. The Niners currently have Lattimore on the PUP list due to his knee and hamstring problems.
The Niners have Jewel Hampton, but he’s not considered a really high level player that the team can depend on.
The 49ers are going to need to keep their eyes open to try and sign one or two running backs that get cut by other teams because they’re not going to be able to go the entire season with Gore and Hyde without something happening to one of them.
Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh likes to use a lot of running plays to take the pressure off of his nervous quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has problems making more than one read on pass plays. If the Niners aren’t able to run the football a lot, it could force Kaepernick to throw the ball a lot more than the Niners want him to in the 2015 season, and he’s clearly not an efficient enough passer for him to play at a high level. He’s a great runner, but a mediocre thrower.