Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports



Many assumed Joe Williams was the running back of the future for the San Francisco 49ers when the team made him its fourth-round draft pick in April. How could you assume otherwise when you consider how hard head coach Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner pushed for the selection?

Williams ended up being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury on September 2 and never spent any time on the 53-man roster. He never pushed Carlos Hyde for the starting running back job and was surpassed by undrafted free agent Matt Breida.

Shanahan briefly spoke to reporters on Friday. And when we say "briefly," we mean it. The entire press conference literally lasted about two-and-a-half minutes. The 49ers head coach was asked about Williams.

"His ankle is good now," Shanahan said. "He could play right now if he was able to go, but we had to make that decision on early. He's been working hard. I know he's been in the weight room. He's in as good of shape as he's been in, running and lifting with [strength and conditioning coach] Ray [Wright], been in a number of our meetings.

"It's always a challenge for those guys who go on IR, especially early in the year because they miss the whole thing, but he's been around. I know him and a number of other guys who have been out there, is eager to go as anybody to start this offseason."

Hyde is scheduled to become a free agent and rumors surrounding him have run wild this season with some saying the 49ers were looking to trade him while others said the team would like to work on a contract extension.

Hyde wants to return to the 49ers next season and sees the team as a potential Super Bowl contender.

"Minus our record, we're a really good football team," Hyde said following the 44-33 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. "Next year, we're going to win the Super Bowl."

The 49ers also have Breida, who has impressed during his rookie campaign while averaging 4.2 yards per carry in relief of Hyde. This past Sunday, the young running back once again proved his worth with a 30-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes against the Jaguars to seal the 49ers' fourth-straight victory and fifth of the season.

With Williams entering the offseason picture and the draft only four months away, you have to wonder how high a priority re-signing Hyde is for the 49ers.