Wednesday, February 20, 2013

49ers RB thoughts

By: Brian Sanchez

     I have received some questions about the 49ers draft which I love. My favorite and most intriguing question thus far is about the possibility of the Niners drafting a RB this year. Frank Gore is a beast, there is no doubt about that. However, in my eyes, he did seem to be losing some explosiveness as the season wore on. I do think he has 2-3 good years as a starting RB left in him. While that is the thought, he has had plenty of injury problems and one could strike on any given run. With that, there is the thought of the 49ers drafting a RB who could replace Gore as an every down back should this be the case. My answer as of this moment would be no, they won't.
     The most popular name I have heard from fans of the show has been Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore was a beast of a RB at South Carolina before his first ACL injury. As a matter of fact, he was a beast of a RB after that first ACL injury. This previous season he suffered ACL injury number two. He was not supposed to be ready for the Combine, but he is, and he says he will shock doctors with how he has recovered. His injuries alone drop him to the fourth round. It is going to take a mind blowing effort at the Combine for a team to spend a pick in the top three rounds on him. So, if he can have a similar career path to Frank Gore (who also had knee surgeries in college) and won't cost a pick of high value therefore lowering the risk: should the 49ers take Marcus Lattimore?
     I am not saying they shouldn't, I'm just saying I don't think they are willing to do so. First of all, most teams carry three running backs, and on rare occasions, they carry four. The 49ers are already one of those teams that carries four running backs. Frank Gore is the number one, he is the starter, he is going nowhere. Lamichael James came on strong at the end of the season showing he will be valuable and that he is very dynamic in the pistol read option formation. Don't forget about Kendall Hunter, he was the back up before going down with an injury and was incredibly effective. He should be back at 100% strength and will be on the team and fighting James for field time. The fourth RB is Anthony Dixon. As a RB he is rarely used, but he could not lose his job to Lattimore because Dixon is a key contributor on special teams which Jim Harbaugh values greatly. So my question to you, the reader, is this: Where would you put Lattimore?
     The idea of drafting a player and keeping them on the roster but having them inactive like they did last year with both Lamichael James and AJ Jenkins is in play. It did work out because when injuries struck the 49ers, those two players were ready to step in and contribute (even though AJ Jenkins had more drops than catches... and he only had one drop). But Lattimore's knees are already a ticking time bomb and wearing them out in practice without utilizing them during games would seem a bit silly. I don't think it is realistic to draft Lattimore in anticipation for Gore running out of gas in a year or two, because Lattimore may have to bow out of the league before Gore.
     If the 49ers do take a RB, expect it to be in the 6th round or later. Everybody is going to be looking for the next Alfred Morris (6th round) or Darryl Richardson (7th round). Expect it to be a player from a small school that does one thing exceptionally well i.e. lightning quick or Hulk strong. They don't need a RB now, and shouldn't in the near future, so I don't think a guy like Lattimore will be in play.

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