Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Turner explains what the 49ers are looking for in running backs

Jun 9, 2017 at 11:20 AM--

San Francisco 49ers position coaches met with Bay Area media following practice on Thursday. Running backs coach Bobby Turner, who replaced long-time coach Tom Rathman, is among many new faces on the staff. He took the time with the media to discuss the team's progress during organized team activities (OTAs).

One question asked of Turner involved the traits that the 49ers look for in a running back. The position coach laid out the qualities that he and the team desire.

"Number one is toughness," Turner said. "Yeah, we want the obvious. We want guys that have speed, foot quickness, cutting ability. They also have to understand about the patience. I want a young man that's coachable. Someone that's willing to learn and willing to grow. And myself as a coach, as a teacher, I learn. Like I said, I've been doing this for years but, constantly, I'm learning from my players."

How does last year's starting running back, Carlos Hyde, fit the description that Turner gave? There were pre-draft rumors that the 49ers were looking for his replacement. The 49ers ended up selecting Joe Williams out of Utah in the fourth round of April's draft. They also traded for Denver Broncos running back Kapri Bibbs. Following the draft, the 49ers signed undrafted free agent Matt Breida out of Georgia Southern, who has reportedly looked good in practices. All of that was after the team added free agent Tim Hightower. Add in the two other running backs on the roster and that makes a crowded group competing for roster spots.

"He's doing an outstanding job," Turner said of Hyde. "But again, I'm not surprised ... He's eager. He's eager to learn and, at this point in time, he's doing a good job."

The biggest knock on Hyde has been his ability to stay healthy. Since becoming a starter in 2015, he has missed 12 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.

Turner also discussed rookie running back Williams and what he brings to Kyle Shanahan's offense.

"He has the tools, the qualities of other players, that's worked well in the system," Turner said. "Again, the toughness. And I'm not going to pinpoint everything, but he's hungry. He has the physical tools. He has that speed. He's got the foot quickness and, when it comes down to it, the mental toughness."

The 49ers finish up OTAs on Friday and kick off a three-day mandatory minicamp next week.

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