RICHARD SHIRO/Associated Press
2011 (in South Carolina): 7 games, 163 carries, 818 yards, 10 touchdowns
2012 (in South Carolina): 9 games, 143 carries, 662 yards, 11 touchdowns
2013: Did not play due to knee injury
2011: 16 games, 112 carries, 473 yards, 2 touchdowns
2012: 11 games, 72 carries, 371 yards, 2 touchdowns
2013: 16 games, 78 carries, 358 yards, 3 touchdowns
I’m grouping Lattimore and Hunter together because they look primed to battle for the backup running back position.
In the red corner, we have Hunter, the primary backup over the past three seasons. Despite the addition of second-round pick LaMichael James in 2012, Hunter’s been the back of choice whenever Gore’s needed a break. On the last year of his rookie contract, Hunter looks to continue to fight off all comers for a share of Gore’s declining carries.
In the gold corner, we have Lattimore, who spent the entire 2013 season on the injured list. Lattimore was considered a steal in the fourth round of last year’s draft, with Charley Casserly calling him the best back available. If he’s fully recovered from his knee injury, he’s ready to take over the starting role for years to come.
This could well be Hunter’s last year on the team; Lattimore is primed to take over the starting carries from 2015 forward. That’s next year, though; this year, it should be an exciting battle in training camp and preseason to see which one stakes a claim to most of the work.
You have to side with Lattimore, I think. He’s got more raw talent than Hunter does, and if his knee is back to full strength, the 49ers will want to see what he can do. That doesn’t mean Hunter won’t have a role in the offense—in fact, I think it will stay about the same, thanks to Gore’s carries decreasing.
On the whole, though, I expect Lattimore to get the second-most carries this season.
Low prediction: 110 carries, 500 yards, 3 touchdowns
Medium prediction: 120 carries, 550 yards, 4 touchdowns
High prediction: 135 carries, 600 yards, 4 touchdowns
Low prediction: 50 carries, 250 yards, 3 touchdowns
Medium prediction: 60 carries, 275 yards, 3 touchdowns
High prediction: 70 carries, 300 yards, 4 touchdowns