Behind projected starter Carlos Hyde, the running back competition in Santa Clara could be fierce. So much so that the writing may have been on the wall for Jarryd Hayne, prompting him to choose an Olympics dream over an NFL dream. While that is speculation, it is tough to imagine someone as raw as Hayne, despite all of his upside, making the final roster.
It is anyone's guess as to which running backs may be on the 49ers' final roster when they kick off against the Los Angeles Rams on September 12. On Tuesday, Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area tried to take a stab at a prediction. He named Hyde as the starter, Shaun Draughn, and 2016 sixth-round draft pick Kelvin Taylor if the team were to carry three running backs. If they were to carry four, he named DuJuan Harris as a possibility.
Noticeably absent from the list is last year's fourth-round selection out of South Carolina – Mike Davis. It wasn't an oversight either as Maiocco said he was choosing Harris over Davis as the fourth running back option.
Could the team be that quick to give up on Davis? If the new coaching staff feels that he has not progressed fast enough, it's possible. If this actually happened, some may look at it as yet another wasted draft selection by general manager Trent Baalke, who actually has final say on the roster. While Maiocco named two 49ers draft selections within his list, he also named two guys who were not drafted by San Francisco. Baalke has repeatedly stated that the team builds through the draft, a philosophy obvious to fans given the team's lack of activity during free agency. The only problem with that, as many within the media have pointed out, is that it is difficult to build through the draft when you repeatedly miss on selections.
Three of Trent Baalke's 58 draft picks since 2010 have been elected to the Pro Bowl, excluding 2016. That's 5 percent.— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) May 19, 2016
While any guesses at a final roster are very preliminary at this point, the selection was simply worth noting and somewhat interesting. Things could very much change as the team's offseason progresses.
Davis would also be eligible for the practice squad since he was on the active 45-man game day roster for less than nine games last season. He missed nearly half of last season with a fractured hand, but returned for the team's final game. Davis finished his rookie campaign with 58 yards on 35 carries, which comes out to just 1.7 yards-per-carry. However, during that final game against the then-St. Louis Rams, Davis had 34 yards on 10 carries, which is a much better average of 3.4 yards-per-carry. Harris was still the highest graded 49ers player in that game, per Pro Football Focus, with a grade of +3.2.