Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports



Carlos Hyde weighed in at 228 pounds on Thursday. Assuming he stays at or below that weight, it will be the first time that the San Francisco 49ers running back starts an NFL season under 230 pounds. General manager John Lynch also noticed the running backs' improved physique.

"I ran into him in the hall and he looks tremendous," Lynch said on Thursday. "He really has dedicated himself. He's changed his body type this offseason and that to me at the least bit shows a commitment."

"This is the lightest I've ever played at since high school," Hyde said. "Even in college, I wasn't as light. I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life right now. I feel like I'm ready to go and I can't wait to hit the field, show off some new speed."

Why did Hyde focus so much on becoming leaner as he enters his fourth NFL season?

"Just going into this season, I wanted to do things differently," Hyde said. "Do something different that I haven't done. I've always played at 230 and above. I mean, I've had success playing at that weight before but I just wanted to do something different. I just wanted this whole season to be different."

Hyde stayed in the Bay Area and worked out at the 49ers facility with strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright.

"Ray workouts are real," Hyde said. "There was no point in going anywhere else. I didn't feel that I would have got the type of training that I was getting with Ray anywhere else unless I went back to college, but I wasn't trying to go that far so I just stayed here."

There has been some debate surrounding Hyde's future with the 49ers, even among 49ers Webzone writers. Al Sacco believes the biggest hurdle that would keep Hyde with the team is his contract status. The running back is entering the final year of that contract and a largely productive season would drive up his asking price – something the 49ers might not want to spend when they have running backs waiting in the wing. If Hyde struggles in 2017, he may not be asked to return.

"Either way, his days in San Francisco appear to be numbered," Sacco wrote.

"A backfield devoid of Carlos Hyde is not the formula for success for the 49ers, not this year and not in the future," wrote a passionate Rumbeck in another recent article.

Seeing Hyde in the best shape of his career is a good sign for the running back. His health has been a concern. Since becoming a starter in 2015, he has been available for just 20 of the team's 32 games due to injuries. In 2016, Hyde finished the season just 12 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard rushing season and missed the final game of the season after being placed on injured reserve. Over the past two seasons, he has rushed for 1,468 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 4.42 yards per carry.

"My goal is to be the number one rushing running back in this league and I feel like I have the best opportunity to do that now with this new staff so I'm definitely looking forward to that," Hyde said. "That's my mindset going into this season is being number one at the end of the season."