Here’s a story I wrote for the Press Democrat’s Thursday sports section.
Carlos Hyde didn’t even watch.
He was the Big 10’s third-leading rusher in 2013, the most talented running back in last year’s draft, and he chose not to watch the first round of it.
“I just went out to dinner,” said the 49ers’ second-year running back Wednesday afternoon as he bounced a basketball inside the 49ers’ locker room. “I wasn’t expecting to go in Round 1.”
Reminder: No team has drafted a running back in Round 1 since 2012.
“If I had gone in Round 1,” Hyde said, “I would have been shocked. But I was expecting to go in Round 2.”
For Round 2, Hyde planned a draft party. He took his family and friends to watch the draft telecast at the Lucky Strike bowling alley in Miami, Fla.
Hyde is a serious bowler, although he’s no Jason Belmonte. Belmonte, the reigning USBC Masters Champ, bowls with two hands and spins the ball from the right gutter all the way back to the left. Hyde puts no spin on the ball when he bowls. “I just get the heaviest ball and roll it hard, see if that works,” he said.
Toward the end of the second round, this no-nonsense running back who also happens to be a no-nonsense bowler was sitting at his lane and waiting his turn to bowl.
“Then my phone went off,” he said, “408 area code. Santa Clara, California. I’m like, ‘Santa Clara?’ I didn’t even know where Santa Clara was. I had never been to California. I was like, ‘Maybe it’s somewhere near San Diego.’ ”
Reminder: People who aren’t from the West Coast don’t know what’s where in California. The entire state is Greater Los Angeles to them.
“I wasn’t thinking the 49ers,” said Hyde. “I thought, ‘They have plenty of running backs — they don’t need a new one.’ ”
Of course, Hyde was referring to Frank Gore and LaMichael James, two of the top running backs on the Niners’ depth chart last offseason. Both are no longer with the 49ers.
“I answered the phone,” said Hyde, “and someone said, ‘Hey, it’s the 49ers’ — that whole spiel. And then they announced my name on television.”
Was it a good feeling when he got picked, or was he frustrated he didn’t get picked in Round 1?
“It was a great feeling,” Hyde said. “I was so excited. I came to a great organization. I was happy the teams that passed up on me did pass up on me because I landed at a great spot.”
Does it matter to him that he wasn’t a first-round pick?
“No, it doesn’t matter at all to me,” he said. “But when I get my chance to showcase what I’ve got on the field, then they will realize, ‘Man, we definitely should have taken him in the first round. But we got a steal in the second.’ ”
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.