|Embed from Getty Images|
Running Back Carlos Hyde Of The San Fransisco 49ers Could Be Looking For A New Team.
A popular broadcasting trope throughout this past season was to generously reference the Lions’ 100-yard rushing dry spell. And while this may have represented a change of pace from the linkage of high school pals Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford, the team will be looking for more than a change of pace back this offseason.
Whether they’ll acquire one through free agency or the draft remains to be seen, but Detroit desperately needs a bell cow. As was the case last year, the current crop of running backs is bountifully talented. Nevertheless, a team with a myriad of needs could opt to address the position in free agency and save their draft capital to stock up in the defensive front seven. If that’s the case, fans of the team could see Bob Quinn turn to a familiar foe for help.
Enter Carlos Hyde, former THE Ohio State Buckeye. Hyde has spent the last four years with a San Francisco team that’s still picking up the pieces from the departure of current Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. As they say, “Life is a circle,” or something. Anyways, the grumblings out of Santa Clara are that he’s not expected back, so the soon-to-be 28-year-old back could once again find himself being recruited by a midwestern team that financially compensates their players.
Hyde is not a transcendent talent, but he’s the complete package as a runner, something the Lions have sorely missed throughout the years. He has solid vision and improvisational skills, and can win with burst, agility, and power. He’s also a natural pass catcher that offers value out of the backfield. And while his pass blocking gives me pause, Hyde would have been a good fit for the offense the Lions ran in 2017.
Free agent (previously SF)
|Games Played||Games Started||Games Won||Winning %||Positions Started||Captain|
|INJURIES||2017: no injuries
2016: right MCL tear (sustained Week 16, missed one game), right shoulder sprain (sustained Week 6, missed two games), concussion (preseason)
2015: concussion (sustained Week 2, missed no games), right pedal foot fracture (sustained Week 5, missed Weeks 8-17 [9 games])
2014: herniated disc, ankle sprain (sustained Week 15, missed final two games of season)
College: sprained right MCL (2012)
|KEY STATS||2017 (16 games) – 240 carries, 938 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 3.9 YPC, 88 targets, 59 receptions, 350 receiving yards, 5.9 YPR, 0 receiving TDs, 2 fumbles
2016 (13 games) – 217 carries, 988 rushing yards, 6 rushing TDs, 4.6 YPC, 33 targets, 27 receptions, 163 receiving yards, 6.0 YPR, 3 receiving TDs, 5 fumbles
|Height||Weight||40 YD||10 YD||Arm||Hand||Vert||3Cone||SS||Broad||Bench|
|6000||230 lbs.||4.66s||1.69s||32”||9 5/8”||34.5”||N/A||N/A||114”||19 reps|
|TAPES VIEWED||2017: 9/21 vs. LAR, 10/15 at WAS, 11/5 vs. ARZ, 11/26 vs. SEA, 12/10 at HOU, 12/31 at LAR|
|Embed from Getty Images|
The most important component of running back play is vision, and Hyde showcases this skill in several aspects. He’s able to key the frontside flow on inside and outside zone run schemes and properly identify bang/bend reads. And on duo runs, he has a feel for cutbacks when the initial lane isn’t there. Hyde also demonstrates solid anticipatory skills to not only sense first-level penetration, but to ‘drive through the smoke’ before blocking actually materializes.
Whenever the blocking breaks down, he showcases good wiggle to evade first responders and can unleash an effective jump cut to impact pursuit angles. Hyde also has the lateral agility and change of direction skills to make last-second cuts in his approach to the line of scrimmage. And interestingly enough, his patience, vision, and ability to press gaps improves considerably when taking handoffs out of the shotgun.
Hyde is athletic – especially for his size – and has solid straight-line quickness and balance to complement good acceleration, lateral agility, and change of direction skills. He runs with good burst off of cuts, through holes, and into collisions. Hyde is a plus finisher who runs with optimal pad level and forward lean, and keeps his legs churning through contact. He’s a strong runner capable of dragging multiple defenders to generate yards after contact and was unfazed by arm tackles. Consequently, he was effective in short yardage and goal line situations. Furthermore, an effective stiff arm helps him keep defensive backs and linebackers at bay, especially in the open field. And although Hyde won’t be mistaken for a speed back, he’s able to challenge linebackers and safeties through the second level and can break contain against cornerbacks to the perimeter.
Perhaps what would make Hyde most appealing to a team like the Lions is that he won’t always need to be subbed out when they drop back to throw. He’s a good pass-catching option out of the backfield with hands uncommon for a running back. A natural hands catcher, Hyde can pluck balls away from his frame; adjust to errant throws (low, high, or behind him); secure catches through contact; and transitions to a runner almost instantly. As a pass protector, Hyde demonstrates a willingness to lock horns with blitzing linebackers and safeties and can use his strength to drop anchor and stonewall them.
Lastly, Hyde has solid mental processing, highlighted by good situational awareness and impressive decision-making. He’s not a dancer and takes what’s available, rather than making bad plays even worse. His ability to limit negative plays is further accentuated by his ability to protect the football when contact is imminent.
|Embed from Getty Images|
One of my biggest questions regarding Hyde is his peripheral vision; his ability to identify bounce reads on zone runs. He could also stand to press his gaps and set up blocks at the second level and in the open field better.
As previously mentioned, his long speed leaves something to be desired, as he won’t breakaway from DBs chasing him down. And despite his ability to eke by solid pursuit linebackers in the race to the edge, he doesn’t have the optimal balance and flexibility to tightrope down the sideline and stay in bounds to continue the run. Similarly, he’s something of a one-gear runner and could improve his elusiveness in space by varying his tempo.
And even though Hyde represents a good safety valve, he’s not an elite passing game contributor for a couple of reasons. He’s not the best salesman as a route runner and will telegraph his breaks, which hinders his ability to serve as a matchup problem or separate from good cover LBs. He’ll also jump unnecessarily to catch passes (thereby limiting RAC) and suffers from the occasional concentration drop.
But by far his worst skill is his marginal pass protection. He’s slow to diagnose extra rushers and green-doggers (delayed blitzers); lunges at targets, often causing him to fall off blocks; and fits his hands wide and fails to secure. Making matters worse is an apparent unwillingness to engage defensive lineman, as he’ll either shy into contact with, or opt to cut, them.
Likewise, his competitive toughness is slightly below average. He comes out of games after long runs and deep routes, which may be a byproduct of conditioning. And when the game has already been decided, he exerts less effort than normal.
Carlos Hyde’s fit with the Lions will be dependent on whomever the new coach is, but as previously stated, would have been a good match last year. He’s a good starting running back you can win with, who will offer a team a good blend of athleticism, burst, power, and vision. He’ll fit best in a zone running scheme in which he can optimize his vision and plant-and-go ability. He must be leveraged more as a checkdown option than a matchup problem or a pass protector, but has plenty of workable traits to be useful in the passing game.