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Carlos Hyde: Pass-protection Is Bigger than 200-yard Game

Tuesday's Niners Daily looks at how Pierre Garçon can make the most of his opportunities in training camp.

The pads are coming on.

And that means the San Francisco 49ers can better evaluate the 90-man roster, including a running back who aims to replace a legend.

Hyde, the running back in the discussion, tied Frank Gore for the team lead with four rushing scores last season. Now, the Buckeye back will get a chance to be San Francisco's bell-cow back if he's able to fully showcase his all-around skills in camp.

Hyde has the chance to do that when the 49ers work on blitz pickup drills starting Tuesday.

Geep Chryst said on Monday that practices and preseason games will determine how his offensive unit works in a deep group of rushers. The 49ers OC did add that Hyde will be given a chance to prove he's worthy of starter reps.

"Carlos is looking great out there," Chryst said. "He's done a really nice job in the offseason program, along with the rest of our team. We want to give him his opportunities."

Hyde battled a leg strain in the offseason program, but he did tell reporters that he felt no issues at the start of camp. The cut-back runner will now look to prove he's growing as a runner and as a blocker.

Hyde certainly understands the importance of eating up blitzes.

"Pass-protection is bigger than you rushing for 200 yards in a game," he said. "Coach (Tom) Rathman stresses pass-protection over and over. I understand it's important. Pass-protection is definitely important. It gives our quarterback time to throw the ball so we can make plays."

Hyde also recognizes that solid protection leads to production in the passing game, and finally, less defenders clogging up running lanes in the box.

The Ohio State product is still keenly aware that rushing the ball is a big part of his job with the 49ers.

When asked what he's most eager about in camp, the second-round draft pick said it was all about building chemistry with a new-look offensive line.

"I'm trying to build that chemistry so we can go into the season, and I know exactly how my guys are (blocking), so when I know we're running the ball I can catch a rhythm and get going," Hyde said.

The running back's focus on proving himself as an all-around threat, including catching the ball out of the backfield, means the competition for carries figures to be one of the top offensive storylines for the rest of the month of August.

Chryst said the 49ers have "real nice depth" at the position with Kendall Hunter, Reggie Bush and Mike Davis prominently in the mix for playing time.

For the OC, the key now is to figure out what each runner does best and how to encorporate those skills without telegraphing their strengths to the opponent.

"We've got to work on rounding out everyone's game so you don't have the 'Hey, Reggie's the receiving back, (and) 'Hey, Carlos is the running, running back,'" Chryst said. "We'd like to have versatility in each of those guys and I think that paying attention to the practices, I think you're seeing that. Guys running the ball who are good runners but guys who are catching the ball who are also good runners."

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