Grading the 49ers: Running backs

Before: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon.

Grade: B

Why: Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter were one of the best rushing duos in the league last year. They got the bulk of the Niners’ carries, and the offense finished eighth in rushing. However, the trio was collectively bad in short yardage. Anthony Dixon was supposed to be the goal line guy, but he failed.

Now: Add Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James.

Grade: A-

Why: The 265 lb. Jacobs should be an upgrade over Dixon as the goal line running back – he scored 7 TDs last season and 9 the season before. LaMichael James should be an upgrade over Kendall Hunter, who’s a good running back. The Niners don’t have to worry about their small, change-of-pace backs getting hurt because they have two of them. So the Niners have three, possibly four good running backs this season. If Gore stays healthy and Jacobs succeeds at the goal line (scores 5+ TDs), this group will be an “A.”

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