San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke fielded several questions during the owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. this week about the status of embattled quarterback Colin Kaepernick — after the Browns’ signing of free agent Robert Griffin III on Thursday, the trade options for Kaepernick were effectively reduced to one team: the Denver Broncos. While Baalke seemingly works daily to mend the quarterback issues he is facing, he said during the meetings that one area the team is strongest is in the backfield.
Currently, the 49ers have six running backs on their roster — Mike Davis, Shaun Draughn, Kendall Gaskins, DuJuan Harris, Jarryd Hayne and Carlos Hyde. Baalke might expend one of his dozen picks at next month’s draft on an additional running back, but for now, he said he is comfortable with the talent of that stable.
“We feel like we can go into the season and feel pretty good about it,” Baalke said. “That’s not a position where, generally speaking, you’re going to have three bell cows.”
Additionally, Baalke dismissed any previous reports that hinted towards the Niners looking to add running back depth during free agency. He said thee team reached out to a few running backs, but it was “nothing substantial.”
“I wouldn’t say that was totally accurate reporting,” he said.
The Niners did host free-agent Lance Dunbar for a visit. He ultimately re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys this week.
Carlos Hyde is undoubtedly at the front of the line when it comes to who will be viewed as the team’s starter, Baalke said he will be cleared to take part in all on-field workouts during the offseason training program. Hyde was marred late in the season by a stress fracture in his left foot, surgery was performed on the foot during the offseason.
Newly minted head coach Chip Kelly will be remembered for many mishaps during his tenure in Philadelphia, one of them, swapping LeSean McCoy for DeMarco Murray. Though he’s only viewed the 24-year-old from a distance, Kelly has been impressed with what he’s seen from Hyde.
“He’s one of the really good young running backs,” Kelly said this week during the owners meetings.
Baalke paid compliment to his full stable of running backs, citing specifically the effectiveness both Draughn and Harris brought immediately. Both running backs were signed off the street.
“I think Shaun Draughn came in and earned the respect of a lot of us for a guy who was on the street and doing nothing at the time we picked him up,” Baalke said. “The same with Harris. We all know Carlos when he’s healthy is one of the better backs in the National Football League. We expect him to come back healthy and ready to go.”
Added Baalke on Davis: “We certainly haven’t seen everything he can do yet.”
David Barclay is the 49ers Insider for byteclay.com. He is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @DJamesIII