Hyde hopes less weight leads to more yards for 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Carlos Hyde is far from satisfied despite coming off his most productive season in four seasons in the NFL.
Entering a contract year, Hyde knows he must raise his level of production even higher if he wants to get rewarded next offseason with a lucrative deal.
To get that, Hyde reworked his body this offseason, shedding a little weight to get under 230 pounds for the first time since high school.
“Just going into this season I wanted to do things different, do something different that I haven’t done,” Hyde said. “I’ve always played at 230 pounds and above. I’ve had success playing at that weight before, but I just wanted to do something different. I wanted this whole season to be different.”
Hyde’s work has made an impression on his coaches with Kyle Shanahan talking about sensing a major change in work ethic and attention to detail about midway through OTAs.
That only continued into the early days of training camp.
“He’s taken it to another level,” Shanahan said. “I can tell he’s put in the work and is giving himself a chance to have a really good season.”
Hyde is hoping for far better results this season than he had in his first three seasons since being drafted in the second round out of Ohio State. Hyde spent most of his rookie season as a backup to Frank Gore, getting just 83 carries for 333 yards.
Given the starting role in 2015, Hyde rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener, but finished the season with just one more touchdown and 302 more yards in six games before his season was cut short by injury.
Hyde stayed mostly healthy last season, playing 13 games and finishing with 988 yards, but he feels he left many more big plays on the field that he hopes will improve this season under acclaimed running backs coach Bobby Turner.
“Just the whole finishing parting of the game,” he said. “I think if I would have done a better job of finishing, I would have hit 1,000 yards.”
Turner has had a long career as a running back coach, helping develop unheralded backs such as Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Alfred Morris and Devontae Freeman into 1,000-yard rushers.
Turner stresses speed and the ability to make a cut, traits Hyde hopes to improve by being at a lighter weight.
But Hyde will have some competition in fourth-round pick Joe Williams, veteran Tim Hightower, undrafted free agent Matt Breida and Kapri Bibbs.
“When it comes down to it, a lot of people say you can plug anybody in there,” Turner said. “No, it’s like a marriage, it’s got to be a perfect fit. It’s hand in glove. It’s our responsibility to find the correct people and then to teach those guys and for those guys to run with vision.”
Turner and coach Kyle Shanahan base their offense heavily on the outside zone run, where backs patiently run down the line of scrimmage before spotting a hole and making a quick cut upfield with acceleration.
Hyde has used his strength to be more of an inside runner in his career and also must learn how to be a better receiver after catching just 50 passes his first three seasons.
“I’m still learning the playbook,” Hyde said. “I’ve got a good grasp of the playbook, but taking it to the next level with the playbook. This offseason, I was more focused on the passing game because the running back is involved in the passing game, so I was trying to get that part down. Now it’s understanding the running game, understanding how certain runs are blocked and what I should be looking at.”
NOTES: SS Eric Reid left practice early with an ankle injury. Shanahan said he did not know the extent of it, but hoped it wasn’t too serious since Reid tried to play on it after the initial injury. ... FS Jimmie Ward is not expected back until mid-August at the earliest after injuring his hamstring during the conditioning test on Thursday.