Carlos Hyde is trading scarlet and gray for red and gold.
The bruising running back was drafted in the second round, 57th overall, by the 49ers. He was the third running back selected after Washington's Bishop Sankey and LSU's Jeremy Hill. Four tight ends were taken before the first running back, which went 54th overall.
Hyde joins a crowded backfield that already includes Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore.
“I’m going to definitely get in there and compete to get that staring job and keep that running game alive that Frank Gore brought to the Niners,” Hyde said. “I’m going to get in there and work my hardest to get that job and if I’m fortunate enough to get that starting role, I’m embracing it and take it from there.”
Hyde rushed for nearly 2,500 yards the past two seasons, including 1,521 last season despite a three-game suspension. He became the first Urban Meyer-coached running back to surpass the 1,000-yard threshold. Hyde ended the 2013 season with nine consecutive 100-yard games. He eclipsed 200 yards in two of those games, including a 226-yard performance at Michigan, the most yards ever by an Ohio State player against the Wolverines.
Hyde also made a habit of finding the end zone. The fan favorite scored 35 total touchdowns in his final two seasons at Ohio State.
“I would describe my game as violent,” Hyde said. “What I bring is I play with a lot of passion. I feel like guys can feed off of that. They see how hard I run the ball and how much determination I run with.”
If the clock was rolled back a decade or even five years ago, Hyde would have heard his name called in the first round – probably in the top 15 picks. Instead, he’s entering an NFL that’s seen diminishing value in running backs.
Still, that doesn’t mean Hyde can’t or won’t make an impact. All 32 franchises likely viewed him as a running back who could learn the playbook and have significant carries in Year 1.
Despite the crowded backfield, the 49ers couldn't pass on who they saw as the best player on the board.
“The Bottom line is (Hyde) was the best player available,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “He's not a home run hitter every time he touches the ball, but he's capable just as Frank has been capable over his career to break some long runs. He runs our style of offense very well.”
If Hyde manages to steal carries for the 49ers, he'll be running behind one of the game's best offensive lines.
“I love him as a player,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “He’ll block. He’ll catch. He’ll run hard. He’s physical. He could have a rookie year like Eddie Lacy did in Green Bay.”
Lacy, an Alabama product with a similar body and running style to Hyde, earned offensive rookie of the year honors in 2013 after gaining more than 1,100 yards rushing and scoring 11 touchdowns. He also had 35 receptions for 257 yards.
None of Hyde’s measurables wowed scouts at the combine or pro day, but the 2013 Big Ten Running Back of the Year's ability to take hits and not tire during games is unmatched among this year’s draft class. Hyde seems to get stronger as game’s progress.
“I definitely feel I should be regarded as the best running back in this draft,” he said at the combine. “I feel like my game does enough talking and if you watch the film, you can see that for yourself."