The recent news that backup running back Kendall Hunter was lost for the season with an achilles tear serves as a huge blow the 49ers' offense. Now, the Niners not only have to decide on which QB will start moving forward, but they also have to contend with how to replace arguably the best backup/change-of-pace running back in the league.
Hunter was far more than a backup. He served as an ideal complement to Gore with his shifty speed and elusive running. He could also block extremely well for his size, and provided a nice threat out of the backfield.
This injury will test Harbaugh and Roman's mettle but they (along with Baalke) equipped themselves as best they could for a loss such as this one. It's time for Brandon Jacobs, Anthony Dixon and possibly LaMichael James to step up. Still, one may be concerned since none of these running backs have seen the field (or at least not remotely extensively) this season.
Fear not. This is the same coaching staff that cultivated terrific rookie performances from Aldon Smith, Kendall Hunter, Chris Culliver, and Bruce Miller. Miller's story is most telling of this coaching staff's ability to quickly develop talent. In a locked out offseason, Harbaugh and company converted a 7th round defensive end into an NFL fullback that unseated veteran Moran Norris.
Another interesting aspect of Hunter's injury is how, if at all, it will impact the coach's starting QB decision. Does Kaepernick's familiarity and playing time with LaMichael James influence Harbaugh to bump both of them up on the depth chart?
Or does the loss of Hunter compel the 49ers coaching brass to play things safe and familiar and go back to Smith under center?
This is an interesting situation to monitor as the week moves on. Hunter's absence is a significant detriment to this offense any way you slice it, but it will be interesting to see how the roster changes as a result.
Loss of Hunter adds to pressure, but Harbaugh and co. equipped to handle it
By: 808NinerFanDate: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:25 AMComment: Neither Jacobs or Dixon can run outside like Hunter and create speed mismatches. I'd like to see LMJ see some action and let Jacobs pound the ball inside as a combo to replace Hunter's carries. LMJ can be explosive and I'm sure JH & G-Ro can devise some plays to his advantage.