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Shanahan defends benching Carlos Hyde in 49ers loss

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Head coach Kyle Shanahan calls plays from the sideline during the 49ers’ 26-23 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. On Monday, Shanahan said Carlos Hyde will continue to be the team’s starting running back, despite Matt Breida eating into his playing time. (Sam Riche/TNS)
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Kyle Shanahan showed on Sunday that he was comfortable benching Carlos Hyde, one of the most productive 49ers this season.

It didn’t sit well with Hyde, who told reporters that him being left on the sideline for most of the second half wasn’t injury related.

“That was just the coach’s call,” Hyde said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “… I don’t like it, but my boy, Matt [Breida], he’s a good back. So he did a good job going in there and making plays and stuff.”

On Monday, Shanahan explained what informed him making that call. The first-year head coach said he plans to continue to start Hyde, use Breida to not overwork Hyde and then ride whichever player was performing better.

“It depends on the fronts we’re going against, what personnels we want in, the type of practice, the week of practice, how it’s looked,” Shanahan said.

Hyde missing a block and fumbling factored into the decision as well.

“I feel we’ve got good backs on this team. But, the problem is you only get to hand the ball off to one of them,” Shanahan said. “… You’re only going to get so many opportunities [to run the ball], so when you do get that hole you’ve got to decide who’s in there, and Hyde had a couple bad plays, but nothing to make too big a deal about.”

NaVorro Bowman, another veteran who wasn’t happy to be losing playing time, will continue in a situational — instead of every-down — role.

Shanahan said Bowman needs to pace himself to ensure he’s healthy and fresh on the field.

“It’s not to phase anyone out or to go younger,” Shanahan said. “… it’s what do we think will help the player, which helps the team, and that’s what we feel is the best for us right now and kind of been leaning towards that way these last two weeks and plan on continuing that.”

Foster to return to practice
Linebacker Reuben Foster will resume practicing on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 1.

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Shanahan warned that even though Foster was back in practice, that doesn’t guarantee he’ll be ready for the game at Washington on Sunday.

“We’ll see how he looks, and then we’ll evaluate week to week,” Shanahan said.

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