San Francisco 49ers’ running back Carlos Hyde enjoyed his best statistical season in 2016. Fantasy football owners enjoyed a respectable 1,151 yards from scrimmage, along with nine total touchdowns from the three-year pro. Hyde finished as the RB14 in standard formats despite his team winning just two games all season.
The 49ers are poised for a rebuild come 2017. They already have their new head coach in Kyle Shanahan, formally the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Shanahan was the brainchild behind the eighth-most productive offense in NFL history. So long as a Super Bowl hangover does not plague the former offensive coordinator, San Francisco’s offense will surge next season. The 49er’s finished 31st in the NFL in total offense, but they averaged the fourth-most rushing yards per game as a team last year. Enter Hyde, who was the teams leading rusher with 988 rushing yards and a 4.6 yards per carry average.
— Mark WemkenEZS (@MarkWemkenEZS) February 7, 2017
Hyde fits the mold for a Shanahan running back perfectly. The son of Super Bowl champion head coach Mike Shanahan has produced multiple top 15 fantasy running backs since earning his first offensive coordinating job nearly ten years ago. Starting running backs under Shanahan have averaged roughly 1,250 yards from scrimmage, 35 receptions, nine total touchdowns, and 177 standard fantasy points per season. To put this into perspective, Miami Dolphins’ running back Jay Ajayi finished the 2016 season with 177 standard points; good for 11th-most in the league at the position.
There are a number of changes the team as a whole is set to make next season. San Francisco will likely have a new quarterback under center, given the lack of success the team has had with current signal caller Colin Kaepernick. The 49er’s possess the second-overall pick in this year’s draft. They still have young talent in the 25-year old Hyde, so San Francisco should be looking for a quarterback or a clear cut WR1.
As a rookie, under Kyle Shanahan in 2008, Steve Slaton ranked fifth among running backs in total yards from scrimmage.
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) February 7, 2017
Pro Football Focus fantasy football writer Scott Barrett offered extra details regarding the effects Shanahan has on running backs via his Twitter account. Former NFL running back Steve Slaton ran for over 1,200 yards and caught 50 passes in his rookie season under Shanahan. Barrett followed up his analysis with a tweet stating Slaton “started just 11 more career games after this season”.
Shanahan was also the offensive coordinator for the 2012 Washington Redskins. Running back Alfred Morris ran for 1,613 yards and scored 13 touchdowns as a rookie in the offensive guru’s system. Morris averaged 90.3 rushing yards per game under Shanahan, but he has mustered just 43.8 rushing yards per game since he and the league’s smartest offensive mind parted ways.
The third running back Shanahan has made famous is Devonta Freeman. Freeman has consecutive 1,000 yard campaigns to go along with 127 receptions over the last two seasons under Shanahan. Freeman had just 95 career touches before Shanahan turned him into one of the league’s best multi-purpose backs.
All of this means that Carlos Hyde could be in store for the best fantasy finish of his career. He is already an established top 20 tailback in an offense that is sure to see numerous improvements. Based on what Kyle Shanahan has done for so many running backs in the past, Hyde is destined to be one of 2017’s most impressive fantasy starters.
Mark Wemken is the Carolina Panthers staff writer and fantasy football analyst for EndZoneScore.com. Follow him on Twitter for fantasy insight and breaking news on all things Carolina football: @MarkWemkenEZS