In a season of wholesale changes, no position on the 49ers’ roster has had more new faces than the running back spot.
Since the loss of Frank Gore to free agency, the position has amounted to a game of Hyde and seek. Carlos Hyde was counted on to be the workhorse, but after he and Reggie Bush were injured, the carousel began to spin out of control.
Next is veteran Travaris Cadet, who tried out for several teams before he signed with the 49ers last week. When they visit Seattle on Sunday, he will be in line to become their eighth different player to carry the ball from scrimmage this season.
“A tough decision,” Cadet called it. “This is kind of new to me. I never went through switching teams and visits and different things like that. Apparently, I had an injury in camp [with the New England Patriots] that set me back a little bit. I was kind of surprised, but I adjusted. I felt like San Fran was a great fit for what I do.”
Cadet replaced veteran Pierre Thomas, who was released after one game with the team. While Thomas is the more accomplished pass blocker, the 26-year-old Cadet can return kicks and is four years younger.
The coaches decided not to invite ex-49er Kendall Hunter back for a tryout because of recent health problems. He reportedly worked out with the Seahawks earlier this week.
“When I was in New Orleans, it seemed like [the playbook] was complicated because it was new,” Cadet said. “But everything comes together. There are differences in some places [and] some similarities, but everything that I learned in the league, I just got to put it together.”
Cadet will have to put it together soon. The Seahawks pose unique challenges because of the quality of their defense and level of crowd noise at CenturyLink Field.
Newcomer Shaun Draughn also is in the mix. In his debut, he led the team with 58 yards on 16 carries in the 17-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“There will be a distribution with the running backs throughout,” coach Jim Tomsula said. “They’re all going to get their work.”
The situation will become clearer if and when Hyde returns from a stress fracture in his left foot. He underwent a physical examination earlier in the week, and Tomsula was hopeful of a return to practice this week.
The injury will likely require surgery in the offseason, but Hyde apparently believes that he can play through it.
“I’m not going to get into that whole part right there because that’s getting into private conversations,” Tomsula said. “So he’s where he’s at and we’re going.”
As for Bush, he was lost for the season after he tore a miniscus in his left knee three weeks ago. The problem had been thought to be a more serious MCL tear.
“What’s ahead for me? Just a lot of rehab,” Bush said with a slight laugh. “A lot of rehab. It’s a long process, but I’ve got a lot of time to heal.”