After coming up injured in Friday's practice, reports came out that 49ers officials were worried about Kendall Hunter's injury. It seems the worst has occurred, as the MRI came back with a torn ACL for the fourth-year running back.
To make matters worse, LaMichael James was carted off the 49ers practice field Sunday, per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. According to a later update by Rapoport, James suffered an apparent dislocated elbow, but it's not all bleak. Rapoport believes James will likely miss a month, so it's still plausible James could be ready for the start of the regular season.
Now, how does this affect the 49ers backfield? We all know Frank Gore will receive his usual carries, but the injury to Hunter makes the backfield a lot more manageable in terms of roles.
With a healthy James, he could easily become the 49ers' third-down back. With the 49ers looking to possibly open up the passing offense, having James in the backfield on third downs should give Colin Kaepernick another weapon. Carlos Hyde was destined for a goal-line role on offense, but the injury to Hunter should give him the opportunity spell Gore in the regular season.
I'm not sure what Marcus Lattimore's role will be, but before the 49ers figure that out, he has to stay healthy enough to see the field. Despite a loaded backfield, Lattimore's biggest obstacle since entering the league is his health.
The 49ers lost a very underrated player in Hunter, but with his injury, this should make the backfield a little less muddled going forward.