Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Former NFL running backs envision Dion Lewis to 49ers and Carlos Hyde to Colts

Mar 6, 2018 at 5:50 PM--

Le'Veon Bell is not leaving Pittsburgh after the Steelers used the franchise tag to ensure the running back stays put for at least one more season. There are only a handful of teams with draft picks high enough to acquire former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. That means the value for the running backs about to hit free agency increases.

The San Francisco 49ers might be one of the running back-needy teams this offseason.

Former NFL running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis were on NFL Network on Tuesday and tried to predict where some of those ball carriers might land.

Dion Lewis

Where does Davis envision New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis landing?

"The 49ers," he said. "I'm thinking about it. Kyle Shanahan had that big, remarkable year in Atlanta. You had [Tevin] Coleman down there. You had [Devonta] Freeman. You put a guy like Dion Lewis in your offense, that really makes an offense explosive with Jimmy G. It's just another weapon.

"Obviously, you have to go out there and get another running back to compliment him, but I think Dion Lewis would fit nicely in San Francisco."

Of course, the 49ers do have another running back in Matt Breida, who is entering his second NFL season. In 2017, the undrafted rookie carried the football 105 times for 465 rushing yards, an average of 4.4 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. He also had 21 receptions for 180 yards with a touchdown.

As for Lewis, Pro Football Talk reported last week that the 49ers could be among several NFL teams interested in the impending free agent. In 2017, he started eight regular season games for the Patriots and rushed for 896 yards on 180 carries (5.0 yards per carry average) with six touchdowns. Lewis also had 32 receptions for 214 yards and three touchdowns.

Carlos Hyde

What team does Tomlinson see as a good fit for 49ers running back Carlos Hyde?

"How about the Colts? They just got rid of Frank Gore, and I believe they need a running game, there's no question about it," he said. "They want Saquon Barkley, let's not get it twisted, but he won't be there at number three. This is the guy you settle on, which is a pretty good guy to settle on -- Carlos Hyde."

The 49ers have shown some interest in having Hyde return to the team in 2018 and were scheduled to meet with his agent at the NFL Scouting Combine. However, no contract appears to be imminent with San Francisco expected to let the running back test the open market.

2017 was the first year that saw Hyde start all 16 games in a season. He carried the football 240 times for 938 yards, eight touchdowns, and had a career-high 59 receptions for 350 yards. Hyde had five games with at least one touchdown, which includes three with multiple scores.

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