Trent Baalke on Carlos Hyde: “You have to like what you see early on.”

SANTA CLARA — This is what Trent Baalke said about Carlos Hyde Saturday afternoon.

ME: What about Carlos Hyde has stood out to you in training camp so far?

BAALKE: You have to like his pad level, his vision, his feet. He is a 235-pound back that has small-man movements. He gets his feet in the dirt quick. He gets in and out of things. He sees things. He’s a natural runner and you can see that. Now there are things he’s going to have to work on and he certainly will, but you have to like what you see early on.

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  1. Grant,

    Back after the draft you questioned Hyde’s ability to run some of the 49ers bread and butter undercenter run plays. I know it’s early but can you comment on how the situations they’ve put him in and how he’s performed so far.

    1. He looks comfortable, decisive and powerful on the under center run plays. Hyde has looked more explosive than Gore so far.

      1. Is Frank Gore done as an every day down back? I hate myself for saying this but I think so and the Niners are being too loyal. He has been a great warrior but I think its time to pass the torch.

        1. I think Gore, if he is well rested, has the best chance to make the right plays in the playoffs. I love Hyde. But I still believe Gore is our #1 RB at crunch time.

          1. Gore slows down as the season progresses. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hyde was the 49ers’ No.1 by the end of the regular season.

              1. Exactly my point. He made that phrase popular after making the switch to Kaepernick who only got a start due to an injury.

              2. Harbaugh used the injury as an excuse to make the switch. Running backs pick up nagging injuries. Harbaugh will be able to use one of those as an excuse if he wants to.

              3. If Smith had another bad game like the Giants game, maybe.

                Different position though. Both Gore and Hyde will get carries every week. Any good coach would give the bulk of the carries to the more productive back. It’s a meritocracy, as Harbaugh likes to say.

              4. (Apologies in advance for the following pure, uninformed speculation.)

                To this day I think the Harbaugh considered accelerating the QB change after the 2012 NY Giants debacle.

                In 12 qtrs vs NYG, the 49ers passing game won the first two… and flopped the following ten. Alex was one of the most efficient QBs in football in 2012, but Harbs must have wondered if he get past NY in the playoffs.

                After the concussion Harbaugh made the switch. Then NYG pulled a fast one by flopping, never making the playoffs at all.

              5. Kaepernick had been getting plays all along that season too.

                The only time Harbaugh has had two backs split the carries was his first season at Stanford when he didn’t have a good back.

            1. My hope is that Gore is heavily rested along the way in practice and games so he is fresh for the playoffs.

              1. Exactly. If Hyde can carry the load during the regular season it would be in the 49ers’ interest to let him carry it so Gore can be fresh for the playoffs.

      2. good info. keep it coming.

        are the Niners running anymore outside running plays? in mini-camp we heard about sweep plays. But Hunter and James (and Kaepernick) were considered more of the outside running threats. Have you seen Hyde running anything other than up the middle and off tackle?

          1. Power O is still the bread and butter play. It’s a basic power play taught at the Pop Warner level (the Niners just dress it up and even man it differently sometimes); at my high school it was our bread and butter play too. 26 and 27 Power (run in the 6&7 holes). the power O also sells play action. remember when we heard about teams keying in on where Iupati pulled to where the ball was going? well, play action off the Power O takes advantage of defenders trying to key in on the O-line’s movement to get a read on the play.

            “A very wise coach once told me, ‘If you really want play-action, you better pull a guard’”

            I still wonder if the outside run threat will be legitimate. I wonder if Gore or Hyde can get outside on those sweeps. The Niners have tried to make up for their lack of outside speed by using fly sweeps, smoke routes and the read option.

  2. I will say this is the exact type of RB the Niners need if he can catch the ball out of the back field. He has all the running tools and skills but does he have the hands.

  3. It’s a shame Jed doesn’t use this thread to make all his personnel department decisions. Think of the money he could save on excess staff. For one thing, he would have known in 2011 that Frank Gore was done.

    If the offensive line can reduce the number of times that the opponents front seven has someone in Franks face at the moment he gets the ball, he might still be able to find his way through those small holes often enough to contribute.

    1. htwaits: While Gore’s ability to recognize those small crease holes will never go away, his quickness to get through them and the speed to take advantage of the open space has already diminished. ” If the offensive line can reduce number to times the front seven has someone in Franks face—— he can still contribute”. Frank used to be able to push the pile and get positive yardage even when there was not opening. When there was an opening he would exploit it for a big gain. IF IF IF. To many ifs. What you are saying is that the team can compensate for Franks weaknesses and decline.

      Talk about goal displacement. Get a clue! The purpose for the 49ers is to field the team that will give them the best opportunity to win the Superbowl. Contrary to some of your opinions it’s not to extend Frank Gores career. Can he still play? Yes he can, but is he still the best option available to the team. There are too many area’s that he was once very good in that have now declined. Does the ability to find holes and pick up blitzes compensate enough for all the area’s that he is just average at best at. Especially when you have very good young talent sitting behind him.

      To many people allow past history to interfere with their objective evaluation of the present.

      1. When the 49ers offensive line put a hat on hat last year Gore made the plays. There’s still no back in the league who can get small through the hole like he can.

        1. I don’t think Gore’s lack of production can be put on the offensive line. Only because every year for the past 3 years Gore loses his steam. He looks fatigued and lacks that burst. It’s all attributed to being a 30 yearold running back in a young mans game. Moreso position.

          1. “Only because every year for the past 3 years Gore loses his steam.”

            That’s false. In the 2011 and 2012 postseason Gore averaged over 5 yards per carry.

      2. To many people allow past history to interfere with their objective evaluation of the present

        Yeah, but that’s not half as annoying as the people who think they know more than the 49ers’ coaching staff.

        1. That’s nowhere near half as annoying as those Seahawk fans or the Super Monkey that post mindless rants and garbage on here.

  4. I like hearing the low pad level. (Some) people said following the draft Hyde can too upright. If that’s corrected (or never really was an issue) it bodes well.

      1. I have the Borland highlights vs Ohio State (Hyde) saved on my computer. They are both a pleasure to watch. Hyde resembles Bettis more then Dixon, and that’s a good thing.

    1. Sorry, I meant “I like hearing (about) the low pad level…” and “…Hyde (Ran) too upright…”

  5. Some of you guys are gonna hate this and I’m not trolling. But I will say this. Team gave up way too early on Jenkins… From the KC Star’s practice report:

    “Alex Smith ended the day by hitting Jenkins, who was wide open behind the defense…”

    1. Ghost, it would sooth alot of egos in this blog (including mine) of AJ turned out to be good. I was a big defender of him after the draft.

      I’m rooting for AJ Jenkins. Just because he didn’t work out here doesn’t mean I don’t like him.

    2. I’m very interested to see how KC performs this year with all the losses. I’m hoping Alex leads them to the playoffs again. And I hope he finally gets his deal done.

      1. Brodietowashington: The 49er’s couldn’t afford to nurture Jenkins even as long as they did. They needed someone who could contribute not a long term project. He is the kind of player that you put on the practice squad. His upside isn’t that good to justify his roster spot on the 53 man roster. I think piddling around with him was instrumental in the crappy receiving corp they ended up with last season.

        So Jenkins got behind coverage and caught a pass in practice. He actually did that a few time here as well. He might well win a roster spot with KC but that does not mean that the 49ers should have kept him. KC is still obligated to sort of keep him because ot the cap hit they would take if they released him. That was why the Niner’s won in that trade. They can release Baldwin any time without taking a hit. He wouldn’t have contributed last year and do you really think he would have made the team with the receiving corp depth this year?

        The level of expectations for Jenkins with the Niner’s ended up so low that when he even caught a pass all his supporters get really excited. Seems that that hasn’t changed much has it.

    3. Ghost, I think you’d be right had we cut AJ. But we traded him for another 1st round WR, Baldwin. I don’t see that as flat out giving up on the guy. It was simply one reclamation project for another. Now, if AJ gets coached up and Baldwin flames out…

      That becomes an interesting discussion.

        1. So then we’ll see… If AJ performs well in his first full season with a different coaching staff and Baldwin doesn’t with ours… Either our talent evaluation is off or our player development is off. OR both.

    1. MWD:

      Thanks for the link.

      Everyone who keeps advocating for the team to make significant changes should pay attention to this part:

      So did Madden offer his counsel to Harbaugh this offseason?

      “Hell no,” Madden said. “He’s done a lot of good things and won a lot of big games. The last thing he needs is counseling on that.

      “The answer is you don’t do anything. People get close and try to do something. They panic and screw everything up.”

  6. Frank Gore averaged 1.76 yards after contact his last 10 games last season, and 1.28 yards after contact his past four games against the Seahawks.

    I’m guessing Hyde can do better than that.

      1. Mike Solari had success with Larry Johnson, a Big 10 RB, and the 49ers’ O-line is very good. Hyde is in a good situation and he may be better than the starter.

        Hyde won’t make many NFL defenders miss, but he’s faster than Gore and probably will pickup more yards after contact per carry than Gore right away.

        1. I said weeks ago that every running back on the roster is quicker, faster and more explosive than Gore…. Add to that that Hyde can move a pile, and there is no reason to give Gore more than 10 carries a game. All the youngersters need is game experience.

    1. You forget that the team had to heavily rely on Gore because of the depleted receiving corps, that we have an OC that can overuse the run game, and that the Seahawks D is strong unit.

    2. Grant’s had a a chance to see Hyde live now. A guy that big who moves like he does is rare and I would guess that stands out in practice.

      I’m hoping we get Larry Johnson type production out of him. We’re going to need it.

  7. Early returns from camp show that Grant may be 0 for 2 regarding the 9ers first 2 picks. Ward and Hyde are looking good early but its certainly to early to make a definitive statement on either player.

    1. Ward did well against Stevie Johnson the first two days, but Ward struggled against Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin the second two days. Dontae Johnson was more impressive than Ward yesterday. I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson was the starting CB opposite Brock by the end of the season.

      1. Around the league, much of who starts toward seasons end will hinge on how the refs are capping PI/DH. If its like last season, big guys like Donte have an advantage.

        The pre-draft “book” on Dontae Johnson was he’d get burned biting too hard on the first shoulder or pump fake. If he fixes that (and locate the ball without slowing down like Culliver) it bodes well for him.

      2. I know Ward has been getting some experience on the outside. But he’s really a coverage safety who can line up in the slot, yes? At least I thought that’s what we were drafting him to be.

    1. If Ward can win the confidence of Fangio as the back up Safety as well as the Nickel Corner position, that would free up a roster spot at the expense of, say….Dahl?

      1. Razor great point within 2 yrs I see Ward replacing Bethea and still filling the slot CB spot in the nickle

        1. I think Ward at Safety would work fine. He has great anticipation.

          On the other hand, Baalke’s been talking for years about wanting similar sized safeties. He likes the flexibility. Reid fits the bill as a player that can play both strong and free safety.

          What’s neat about Ward is he can be the slot guy, playing 60% of defensive snaps and also provide depth at safety. Saves a valuable roster spot.

    1. The equivalent of a sparring partner. They want a tackling dummy to carry the ball during the preseason.

      1. Yup. With Hunter and LMJ out, Lattimore yet to be cleared, and Gore keeping legs fresh, the 49ers find themselves in a strange position… They need to keep practice reps reasonable for Hyde and Hampton. The opposite of a just week ago when practice reps were a scarce thing for non-starting RBs.

      1. Yeah it’s not like they were the Bucs, but that is a pretty good drop year over year. You can run with the narrative that it was on Gore but there was a lot more to the story.

        1. Sure, but the ability to pick up yards after contact and the ability to move a pile is essential to the 49ers’ running game and neither is affected by the O-line.

          1. The biggest factor in any running game is the play of the offensive line. Yards after contact has a number of variables that make it a somewhat ineffective measurement.

            1. I agree Jack. How many times have we seen a RB stopped short of a first down and move the pile without the help of anyone on the OL and end up with a first down?

            2. Marshawn Lynch ran behind terrible run blocking and still ranked near the top of the league in yards after contact per carry.

              1. The problem with the yards after contact stat is where the contact was made within the play is not taken into account.

              2. Lynch frequently got hit behind the line but still averaged 3 yards after contact per carry.

              3. The OL excuse doesn’t work here Grant because YAC occurs after the first contact which can occur at the line or after a RB has found a hole and gained some yards on the ground before a defender can get to him.

              4. Lynch frequently got hit behind the line but still averaged 3 yards after contact per carry.

                He also got frequently hit after chewing up some yards on the ground yet still managed to gain extra yards by moving the pile.

              5. “Lynch frequently got hit behind the line but still averaged 3 yards after contact per carry.”

                Not in his last 10 games. ; )

              6. Grant and Co.: in the even MLynch is a no show, any opinions on how Seatte will do with Turbin and Michael?

              7. I would expect regression at the position if the Lynch holdout goes into the regular season Mary. Lynch adds a dimension to the Seahawks offense that I have yet to see in Michael or Turbin.

          2. No, but constantly doing the same thing to where the opponent catches on and can stack the box without the fear of it coming back to bite them does. That has to be taken into consideration.

      1. Grant:

        Is that number a grade for the unit as a whole or the summation of the individual grades for the five starters?

  8. On the 2013 running drop off…

    – Lack of deep threat WRs = stacked boxes. Yes, Gore faced stacked boxes before, but last year was ridiculous. The lack of a deep threat WR made defenses even bolder. So poorly respected was the 49ers long game, on a typical first and ten Seattle had 10 men on the line of scrimmage. It looked like a goal line stand.

    Rice or Taylor on a slant would have eaten that formation for lunch. (It was Rice that finally punished the Bears 46 defense.)

    – When Gore breaks long runs, he’s shot for the rest of the game. Its not so much contact, but full out runs that seem to wear Gore out. Don’t be surprised if years from now Gore reveals a hip issue that hobbled him from 2012 on.

    1. – I love the how our athletic, super talented big guys like Iupati pull, run power and get to the second level. Ironically its the simple short yardage drive blocking that seems wanting. Short yardage plays tend to get stuffed by defenders shooting the gap. Gore is too often seen dodging defenders in the backfield right after snap.

      1. Iupati really struggled at times last season with getting to the right man when pulling. The first Seattle game had a few good examples of that.

        1. Iupati also struggled against quickness against Atlanta. I agree that he’s probably going to excite some team into a big contract that hopefully nets us a 3rd round compensatory pick.

  9. “(Bleep) Seattle,” Vickerson said, according to the Gazette‘s Paul Klee, a columnist for the paper. “Write it down. Take a picture.”

  10. The one part of the “limit Gore’s carries” argument that I agree with is how they utilize him late in games. As Bay will tell you, there were times when the game was in hand and they kept Gore in. I think they will look to those situations to get seasoning for the younger guys more this season.

    1. So Jack, you’re arguing that Gore should continue to get the meat of the carries this season, with Carlos and Co. only contributing at the end of games?

      1. Leo,

        The other guys will get opportunities throughout the game just as they have in the past. Just think they could give Gore more rest at the end of games, but that can be a dicey proposition as well.

      2. I can see this as the most likely scenario, however, if Carlos does very well with his carries we could see them work Hyde in more and more. Which could only help Gore at this stage IMO. Even healthy I just don’t see James getting much action his way. Definitely more than previous years, but we’ll see.

        The other plus is there is no way that this offense is as dependent on Gore as they have been the past few years with all the receiving weapons we have this year. I’m not saying we’re going to have the Saints-style offense all of a sudden, but we should see the pass-run ratio start to favor the pass a bit more.

    2. Gore received just over 30 carries last year that were unnecessary. Almost the equivalent of two extra games worth of carries.

        1. Very true. Gore was one of only 8 backs to participate in more than 75% of the snaps for his team.

          You’ve figured out how many carries he shouldn’t have received. Now how many fewer plays would that have come out to?

          1. Look at the Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville games. He touched the ball 30 times unnecessarily in those three games. If they were managing his carries.

            1. Bay,

              I’ve already agreed with you, andthat doesn’t answer my question. You’ve narrowed it down to 30 carries he shouldn’t have received. How many total snaps did he receive that he wouldn’t have if he was pulled early in those games?

              1. My guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70 unnecessary snaps. That is a guess.
                Look at the impact. Ariz, Tenn and Jacksonville almost 70 carries. Followed by a very physical game against Carolina. Not a surprise that immediately after that his YPC were 3.7, 2.4, 2.8 and were it not for one long run the following game, it would have been 3.6.
                Coaches have got to see that….

              2. The game plan against NO was ultra-conservative and the following week against Washington the o-line really struggled.

              3. Jack,
                the game plan against N.O. was not conservative. Kaep was lost that game. The noise level was as high as the Clink. It had an effect. If Gore could have run the ball, we would have won.

              4. They utilized two TE’s and 1 WR on over 80% of their 1st down plays against NO. It was extremely conservative.

                I think the noise level definitely played a factor in Seattle. The noise really effects the O-line’s ability to get off on time. This played a big role in the rushing totals up there.

    3. This Coaching staff has shown they need to have a complete trust in a player to give him an opportunity. That’s why Gore continues to play so many snaps. They know he will not make a key mistake that will cost them. Hyde and whoever else comes on, will have to earn that trust before they are given a prominent role in the offense. LMJ didn’t earn it due to a couple of fumbles and his lack of blocking prowess I would guess. Hyde will have to show he can give them quality snaps close to Gore level if he want’s to play a big role this season.

  11. Watching Hyde highlights I noted he needs to work on the following:
    1. Carrying the ball away from pursuit. He really only carries it in his right arm. No left hand, no double Rathmanesque cover up.
    2. Open field jukes. He is a north/south, one cut runner. Once into the second level, he runs to contact.
    3. Straight arm. He is a big man, but I feel he should throw more tacklers off him. He has no straight arm. That has to change.

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