NEW ORLEANS – Pierre Garçon is more than just a backup running back.
He's a valuable kick returner. We learned this when he was pressed into action in Sunday's 27-24, overtime road victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Hyde, a second-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, had a multi-faceted role in the much-needed road victory in New Orleans. Not only did he spark the running attack by providing a nine-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, he fielded three kicks and averaged 27.3 yards per return. He totaled 118 yards combined: 36 rushing and 82 on kick returns.
Hyde took over the kick return duties after fellow rookie, wide receiver Bruce Ellington, suffered an ankle injury on a third-quarter punt return.
"I always have the mindset that I'll be the guy," Hyde said after the 49ers improved to 5-4. "I'm the next guy up on kickoff return. When Bruce went down, I went right over to coach (Brad) Seely and was like, 'Am I up?' He looked back at me and gave me a funny look and then said, 'Are you ready?'
"I said, 'Yeah!' I was excited. It was another chance for me to get the ball in my hands, get out in space and be able to help the offense get in good field position."
Hyde carried his rugged style into his special teams responsibilities. He even fielded a kick eight yards into his own end zone and brought it out to the 22-yard line. The 30-yard return was his longest of the day.
"Hopefully they don't say anything," Hyde said of his coaches, including Seely, the team's respected special teams coordinator. "As long as I get past the 20, I think I'll be fine."
It's not known how severe Ellington's injury is or how long he'll be out of action. It is, however, known that Hyde has the willingness and mental fortitude to handle a challenging job.
As for his role on offense, Hyde provided all of San Francisco's 27 yards of offense in overtime. On the 49ers opening drive, he picked up 15 yards on a well-designed run over the left side of the field.
"All week our coaches said to be patient on the runs and there were going to be seams there if we were patient," Hyde said. "That was in the back of my mind when I was out there."
San Francisco ultimately punted away its first overtime possession, but thanks to an Ahmad Brooks forced fumble, the offense didn't need to run another play deep in New Orleans territory.
Phil Dawson trotted onto the field and connected on a game-winning field goal from 35 yards out.
Hyde was one of many newcomers to play a major role in the comeback win, one that saw the 49ers get up to an early 14-0 lead, thanks to his team-leading third touchdown run of the year.
Hyde's score also saw him break out his signature double biceps flex in the end zone.
"I used to do that all the time at Ohio State, flex when I score," Hyde said. "I had to keep that going."
Hyde added to his routine by turning toward the end-zone crowd and pointing back at the "Hyde" on his white road jersey.
"I had to," the rookie said. "I have to let people know who I am around here."