In what appears to be a gamble on the San Francisco 49ers part, they released injured running back Kendall Hunter on Monday in what appears to be an attempt by them to sneak him through waivers to get him onto injured reserve. Hunter recently suffered a torn ACL during training camp and will be lost for the season.
With Hunter going into his final season with the 49ers, the team chose to release him and hope that they could get him back if he clears waivers. By having Hunter off of the active roster, the Niners can use his spot to add another player that they can use this season.
It’s not really worth it for another team to sign Hunter, because they wouldn’t be able to use him this season, and they could end up with nothing if Hunter chooses to move on next season rather than sticking with that team.
Hunter has been the 49ers No.2 running back behind Frank Gore for the past two seasons, and he’s averaged 4.6 yards per carry. He has speed and elusiveness that make him a high quality back. His lack of size at 5’7”, 199lbs, is what could limit his career potential because he’s too small to be an every down type back, even though he’s got great explosiveness. He was supposed to make $645K this season for the 49ers.
Hunter is slated to make $645,000 in salary in 2014, according to NFLPA records.
The other NFL teams in the league have become open to signing injured players this year, as we’ve seen with Tyler Gaffney, a Carolina Panther running back, being claimed off waivers by the New England Patriots, and Michael Bowie, an offensive tackle for the Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks, being snatched up by the Cleveland Browns.
The 49ers had plans of having Hunter share reps with rookie Carlos Hyde as the Niners’ No.2 running back in 2014. But with Hunter now lost for the season, Hyde will slide up to the No.2 guy despite never having played a down in the NFL.
It’s a compliment to Hunter that the Niners think enough of him to want to try and get him on injured reserve. It means that they’re likely to try and re-sign him for next season despite the injury.