49ers RB Carlos Hyde a Candidate to "Make the Leap"

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Friday's Niners Daily covers an NFL.com article calling 49ers running back Pierre Garçon a candidate to "make the leap" in 2015.*

"Opportunity plus talent = leap."

That's how Kevin Patra started the article that named Hyde No. 7 on their list of the top-20 players who could breakout this season.

Enjoy some of the most memorable images of the San Francisco 49ers running back from his two seasons in the Bay Area.

Let's start with the opportunity part. Hyde is likely to lead a trio of 49ers running backs tasked with filling the void left by Frank Gore's departure to the Indianapolis Colts. Veteran free-agent signing Reggie Bush and fifth-year ball-carrier Kendall Hunter will also have plenty of responsibility in the team's running game. Mike Davis, Jarryd Hayne and Kendall Gaskins are the other running backs on the 49ers roster.

The exact breakdown of the timeshare in Geep Chryst's offense is still a bit of a mystery and will be something to keep an eye on in training camp. The coaching staff has already gone on record saying that all three backs can do it all in the rushing attack and won't have defined roles. Even amidst the unknown, Hyde is likely the leader in the clubhouse to win the starting job.

Much of Hyde's opportunity will hinge on his ability to stay healthy. The second-year back out of Ohio State missed the team's last two games in 2014 due to injury. The good news for the 49ers is that he'll enter training camp with a clean bill of health.

As for the talent part of the equation, that was certainly on display during Hyde's rookie campaign in 2014. The 49ers hoped they were getting a bruising, downhill runner when they used a second-round pick on Hyde last year and that's exactly what they got.

Hyde finished with 83 carries for 333 yards as a rookie and tied Gore with a team-high four touchdowns. On those 83 totes, Hyde forced 25 missed tackles per Pro Football Focus. That missed-tackles rate of 30.1 percent puts him just below Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (31.4). The running back also showed his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, pitching in 12 receptions for 68 yards.

Now entering his second year, the running back that can often be described as a "bull in a china shop" said he wants to approach this season with a more patient disposition.

"My biggest thing (I learned) was be patient on runs, let the play develop and not be so quick," said Hyde earlier this offseason. "I felt like last year I was being too quick on plays and not letting them develop. I was missing reads."

Hyde has also shed 15 pounds since last season, now weighing around 220 pounds opposed to the 235 pounds he carried in 2014. That should help with his lateral quickness and allow him to burst through holes at the line of scrimmage.

Patra said he thinks Hyde could be in for 200 carries, 900 yards and nine scores in 2015. 49ers fans would welcome that production with open arms.

Other players on NFL.com's "Making the Leap" list include Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.

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