The San Francisco 49ers have been fortunate to avoid the injury bug so far this season. That changed a bit in Week 12 as backup running back Kendall Hunter went down with a season-ending injury, forcing him to the injured reserve.
Now the 49ers have a couple of decisions to make in their backfield. Frank Gore remains the starter and will continue to receive the lion's share of the carries, but who steps up in backup duty? SB Nation's 49ers blog, Niners Nation, weighed in on the topic. Here is a bit of what they think will happen in San Francisco.
The loss of Kendall Hunter does not mean the 49ers will suddenly dump the entire work-load on Frank Gore. That would be a foolhardy idea given the bigger context implications, and I think most of us realize that.
The question at this point will be how the 49ers use the running backs they have. The 49ers running back corps consists of Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and Jewel Hampton on their roster. While James would seem the most likely to be able to replicate Hunter's ability in space, that does not necessarily mean the 49ers will look to adopt that similar focus. I do think we'll see James utilized on plays where the team can get him in space, but that does not mean he will automatically fill Kendall Hunter's role as backup running back.
Niners Nation also believes Jacobs is more than capable of serving as the primary backup, although he's a bruiser and would likely be pretty limited outside of the red zone. Assuming Dixon and Hampton are out of the mix, it seems James and Jacobs will both get a couple of carries whenever Gore is off the field. This could bring an interesting dynamic to the Niners' playbook, especially given their contrasting run styles.
The 49ers will take on the Rams in Week 12.