SANTA CLARA – Here’s what I saw from the running backs at Monday’s practice:
It’s interesting to watch Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. They’re about the same size. They’re both quick, shifty running backs. Some people thought James might duplicate Hunter, but they’re actually quite different right now. They complement each other.
Hunter is an outstanding blocker, and James isn’t at this point. James got thrown onto his back by NaVarro Bowman in a blocking drill, while Hunter stood his ground against Patrick Willis.
Hunter also is a better pass catcher right now. He caught three passes today. James didn’t get targeted once for a pass.
James is more effective running between the tackles, though. He can string a few cuts together and weave through the line like Frank Gore does. Hunter is better at running around the outside – he gained about 20 yards on one of those runs today.
As talented as those two young guys are, Frank Gore is still the best running back on this team. He broke away from the defense for two long touchdown runs, and after the second one as he jogged back to the huddle he passed Matt Maiocco and me on the sideline and yelled to us, “I’m the best, dog!”
He was right.