SANTA CLARA — Carlos Hyde still holds the title of the 49ers starting running back despite getting benched Sunday for most of the second half against the Colts, Kyle Shanahan confirmed at his Monday press conference. But Hyde and his backup, Matt Breida, may split time moving forward.
“I plan on going with Carlos early,” Shanahan said, “and I plan on spelling him with Breida regardless, whether (Hyde)’s doing good or bad. Breida had a real good week of practice. We weren’t out there as much as we wanted (against the Colts), especially early in the game, and we ended up just going with the hot hand. We felt like Breida was going better at the time. I think they ended up 35 plays (for Breida) to 33 plays (for Hyde), so it was pretty even. That’s how it played out in that game, but I think it will be a different story each week.”
The 49ers benched Hyde after their first offensive series of the second half. Coming into the third quarter, Hyde had gained just 10 yards on five carries. Then on Hyde’s first touch of the quarter, quarterback Brian Hoyer tossed him the ball, Hyde took his eyes off it, looked up before securing the catch, the ball bounced off his chest, hit the ground, Hyde jumped on it and lost 6 yards. That was second down.
On third down, Hyde stayed in the backfield to block during a pass play. The Colts blitzed, Hyde didn’t see the blitzer, linebacker Jeremiah George. So Hyde blocked no one and George sacked Hoyer.
After that play, the Niners punted and the coaches benched Hyde for three entire offensive series. They replaced him primarily with Matt Breida and occasionally with Raheem Mostert. Hyde didn’t return to the game until there were five minutes left in the fourth quarter. And when he returned, he split time evenly with Breida.
Shanahan said Hyde’s fumble and missed block both played into the decision to bench him. “It all plays into it … Hyde had a couple bad plays, but nothing to make too big a deal about. We put Breida in, and he was a shoestring away on two tackles (from scoring). We thought if we kept him, eventually he would get one. He didn’t, but we thought he was pretty close.”
After the game, Hyde objected to getting benched. “I don’t like it,” he said in the locker room, “but my boy Matt (Breida) is a good back. He did a good job going in there and making plays.”
Shanahan said he has not talked one on one with Hyde to discuss the benching or Hyde’s playing time. “Carlos is a man. I think Carlos understands it. If he didn’t, I think he would come and talk to me.”
While Hyde remains the starter in name, he may have lost standing on the depth chart. Shanahan no longer seems to prefer Hyde over Breida. “(Hyde) is bigger,” Shanahan said. “When you’re bigger and not much is there, you can carry the load a little bit more. And (Breida) is a lot faster. By no means is Breida a small guy who can’t break tackles like Hyde, and by no means is Hyde a slow guy who can’t run away and get big runs. That’s why I say it doesn’t totally matter to me too much who is in.”