I say the Niners will not take a running back in the upcoming NFL Draft, and here’s why.
This season, Frank Gore will be the starter and Kendall Hunter will be the backup. Any running back the Niners could draft would be a third-stringer this season (with the exception of Alabama’s Trent Richardson. He’d be the Niners’ best RB right now, but they’re not getting him – he’s a top-five pick.)
It makes no sense for the Niners to spend a first, a second, or a third round pick on a third-stringer when they could draft other players who could contribute quicker. As long as Justin Smith is a dominant player, the Niners will be serious Super Bowl contenders. Smith will be 33 years old this season, so the Niners need to seize their opportunity to win right now. Drafting a running back in the early rounds does not help that cause.
Drafting a running back in the later rounds doesn’t make sense either. That player would have to beat out Rock Cartwright and Anthony Dixon for a roster spot. Cartwright took Blake Costanzo’s roster spot as a Special Teams Ace. He’s going to make the team.
Anthony Dixon is young, cheap, big, hard working and, most importantly, a former Baalke-pick. It’s not in Trent Baalke’s interest to give up on Dixon just yet, especially for another late-round project.
The time for Baalke and the Niners to draft a running back is next offseason. Gore probably has one more good season left. The Niners should milk it, then draft his replacement in the first round next year – Marcus Lattimore, Michael Dyer or Montee Ball.