Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports



Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst is hearing that the San Francisco 49ers are very high on LSU running back Leonard Fournette. So high on him that they may be willing to select him as a replacement for running back Carlos Hyde.

Pauline had the following to say in an article discussing recent draft buzz:

"Sources with knowledge of the situation tell me the San Francisco 49ers are very high on Fournette and are seriously considering using the second pick of the draft to acquire him. The new front office wants a bigger back to run the offense and they're ready to give up on Carlos Hyde, who has had his struggles staying healthy since being drafted by the franchise in 2014."

Of course, this isn't the first time Fournette has been linked to the 49ers' top pick. Kevin Jones of KNBR heard the same thing while at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"One crazy rumor I did hear, though, that Leonard Fournette might be in play at number two for the 49ers," Jones said during a March 1 interview on KNBR. "That he's that talented of a player. They truly may believe that he's the best player in the draft. That would be wild because you already have Carlos Hyde. It wouldn't really make sense but if you think Fournette is going to be that good, is going to be a 15-hundred yard back a year and you're not sure on other guys, I think they would receive so much criticism for that move but I hear he's not being scratched off the board at number two."

Drafting Fournette at the number two spot is not that big of a stretch. He is considered to be the best running back available in the draft and all but one NFL.com mock draft has Fournette going to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the fourth overall pick. What would be a surprise is passing over much bigger needs on a talent-depleted 49ers roster.

If Hyde's durability is a concern for head coach Kyle Shanahan, then replacing the running back with someone bigger would make sense. However, both Fournette and Hyde are 6-foot-0 and the latter's listed weight is just five pounds lighter than the former. At the combine, Fournette weighed in at 240 pounds, which was the heaviest of the running backs who participated.

Hyde's durability could be a genuine concern. Since becoming a starter, he has been available for just 20 of the team's 32 games over the past two seasons.

In 2016, Hyde finished the season just 12 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard rushing season. Over the past two seasons, he has rushed for 1,468 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 4.42 yards per carry.

Fournette missed time during his final year at LSU. In 2016, he struggled with a high ankle sprain that occurred during a camp scrimmage prior to the season and forced him to miss five games. However, he still rushed for 843 yards and eight touchdowns on 129 carries that season.

As a freshman, Fournette rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had his best season, rushing for a school-record 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns on 300 carries.

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