Bruce Miller on Kendall Hunter: “This year we were really looking to bust him out and use him a lot early.”

SANTA CLARA – Bruce Miller was interviewed Saturday afternoon by Bay Area reporters outside of the 49ers’ locker room. Here is a transcript.

Q: Does your heart sink for what happened to Kendall Hunter?

MILLER: Yeah. One, just being a close friend, a teammate, a brother – you don’t ever want to see that happen to a guy, especially a guy like Kendall who puts in so much work, so much effort into getting ready to go. A great teammate. A great leader on our team. To have him go down is definitely going to hurt us, but that’s an opportunity for guys to step up. We’ve got some great guys in the backfield. I know they will pick up the slack there, pick Kendall up. We’ll use that to push through the season – do it for Kendall.

Q: Does your role change at all?

MILLER: No, they won’t change my role. But I’m going to start mentoring some of these younger guys – Carlos (Hyde), Marcus (Lattimore), LaMichael (James), those guys. They’ve got to step in and pick it up.

Q: Have you gotten a ready on Carlos, what he can bring to the team?

MILLER: Yeah. We’re putting the pads on today, so we’ll really be able to get a good look at him. But he’s impressive – big body, can run. I think he does what we want running backs in our system to do. He’s a vertical runner, not much side to side. He can put his foot in the ground and get vertical which is what we always ask those guys to do, pick up tough yards.

Q: How is Hyde in pass protection?

MILLER: I’ve heard a lot of good things about him in pass pro. He can move side to side well, so that’s a big thing. Today we’ll put the pads on and we’ll start practicing and he’ll be ready to go by the start of the season.

Q: Was Hunter somewhat overlooked coming into this season?

MILLER: I don’t think so. Everyone was really excited about what he was doing. He was really productive last year but maybe didn’t get as many carries as he wanted. This year we were really looking to bust him out and use him a lot early. Hate to see him go down.

Q: How does Frank Gore look?

MILLER: I was joking with him yesterday, he looks midseason. He feels great. He had a great offseason. He’s Frank Gore. I didn’t expect anything less from him. He looks great this year.

Q: Any concern about your shoulder?

MILLER: Nothing. I’ve had a long time to rehab and get ready. I was cleared to go right after the season. I was full speed in OTAs. I don’t expect there to be any problems. I’m 100 percent.

Q: What has LaMichael James been like this offseason?

MILLER: Everything has been nothing but positive. It’s hard to come in there with that group of guys, the way that they work, to not do those things. He’s had a great attitude and has worked hard every day.

Q: Is James bigger?

MILLER: He looks a little bit bigger, but he’s still fast as lightning. So I guess that’s all we need from him, to be able to run fast.

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    1. It’s not like he hasn’t had his opportunities. He just hasn’t made the best of them. Not sure that’s going to change, but I’m hopeful….

      1. “He’s had a great attitude and worked hard every day.” That seems like a good thing.

      2. I disagree Razor. His YPC has been very good. He just hasn’t been given many opportunities to carry the ball. Not sure what the issue is because he is bigger,faster and more explosive than Hunter and put up a similar YPC, yet couldn’t get many carries. Pass blocking could be part of it, but still hard to understand. That’s why LMJ has been frustrated I’m guessing.

        1. 3500 yards and 35 Tds in last two years in college. And he can’t get on the field for the Niners? Gotta be pass protection. Or he slept with a York family member.

          1. He’s had 2 in two years. I don’t think it’s an issue but anything’s possible. I’d guess its pass pro more than anything.

        2. Rocket: Bigger does not always mean stronger. Hunter is a much more powerful runner than LMJ. Bigger in LMJ, in respect to comparison with Hunter just means he has more of a body to tee off on.

          1. Different styles Will, but LMJ was a better College player than Hunter and just hasn’t gotten an opportunity. He’s added weight which should help between the tackles.

            1. 2 fumbles in how many carries? Regardless, if he was better, he would’ve been backing up Gore…..

              1. He’s been as good as Hunter running the ball with his limited chances. Not sure why he hasn’t gotten more but if he doesn’t get more this year, they obviously have no interest in him as a RB.

  1. Grant: Can you, or anyone, enlighten me on the 49ers options, with respect to Hunters injuries? If he’s injured in Pre Season, he’s eligible for the “ACTIVE” pup list, right? If he is placed on the active pup list, and the 9ers waive him, how does that impact the 9ers 2014 salary cap?

  2. My eyeball test of LMJ last year tells me he isn’t as quick as he was his rookie year. Some people can add weight and not have it affect their quickness and speed. I don’t think he is one of those. There were statements by varies people last year that LMJ isn’t as quick as people think he is, in response to his lack of playing time. We didn’t have the opportunity to see him much as a rb, but I noticed his seemingly diminished speed on his returns. They had him gain weight to get more power between the tackles but all it did was slow him down with out gaining significantly more strength. Now Milller says he is still fast. Perhaps he is still fast but not as fast as he was as a rookie. There is fast and there is fast.

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