On Wednesday, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle passed along comments from Lynch, who didn't sound like somebody ready to give up on Hyde at this stage:
I think as a player one of the great things about this league and, frankly, what drove me to get back into it is that you're always proving yourself. Particularly when there is a new regime. I hope Carlos feels that way, but I also can tell you that we're really high on him and what he might be able to do in this offense. We think he can be a highly productive player, but we're eager to see.
Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reported Tuesday the 49ers were considering a plan to dump Hyde and use the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft on LSU running back Leonard Fournette. He cited the front office's preference to land a "bigger back" to lead the ground game.
Moving on from Hyde now never made much sense, though.
The 26-year-old Ohio State product, who the franchise invested a second-round pick in three years ago, is coming off his best season as a pro. He rushed for 988 yards and six touchdowns across 13 games, ranking 11th in the NFL in yards per carry at 4.6.
He's also under contract with a mere $1.17 million cap hit for the 2017 season, per Spotrac. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the campaign, though.
While Lynch didn't fully commit to Hyde for the long term, the San Francisco Chronicle noted it sounds like the organization will give the rusher every opportunity to prove himself.
"You have these thoughts as to 'Do these skills translate to what we do?'" the Niners GM said. "He's a very talented young man. We are very excited and hopeful, just in the interactions that we've had, that he's come ready to play."
All told, it wouldn't come as a surprise if the Niners use a draft pick on a running back. They have much bigger needs, led by issues at quarterback, linebacker and along the offensive line, that will likely be the focus early on, however.
Rumored interest in Fournette feels like a smokescreen to see if there would be any potential trade interest, giving Lynch a chance to trade back to gather extra picks.
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