Hightower was signed by the 49ers on Saturday, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Hightower, who is set to turn 31 in May, has spent the past two seasons in a backup role with the Saints. The 49ers now have five running backs on the depth chart, having re-signed DuJuan Harris earlier in the week. Carlos Hyde (knee) is the clear-cut starter heading into the 2017 season, but Hightower will have a chance to compete with Harris, Mike Davis, and Raheem Mostert for snaps.
Hightower is visiting with the Redskins on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reports. Hightower was with the Redskins in 2011 when he suffered a torn ACL that didn't heal properly and subsequently kept him out of the league from 2012 to 2014. After reviving his career in New Orleans the past two seasons, the 30-year-old would seem to be a good fit in Washington's inexperienced backfield, where he might even get a shot to compete for a leading role. While other teams may primarily view him as a passing-down back, the Redskins are already set in that department with Chris Thompson. However, they don't have a clear-cut lead back, meaning that Hightower could be part of a committee at the position. Hightower's last known visit was with the 49ers.
Hightower, an unrestricted free agent, will visit with the 49ers on Thursday, ESPN.com's Mike Triplett reports. Hightower was one of the better stories of the 2015 season, returning from a three-year absence to play a big role in the New Orleans offense late in the year. He then handled a complementary role for most of 2016, taking 133 carries for 548 yards (4.1 YPC) and four touchdowns, with another 200 yards and a touchdown on 22 catches (26 catches). While lacking in explosiveness, the 30-year-old could garner a reasonably strong contract due to his competence as a power runner, pass blocker and receiver. Hightower could slide right in as Carlos Hyde's top backup in San Francisco, potentially getting the majority of passing-down snaps.
Hightower rushed for 29 yards and a touchdown on three carries in Sunday's loss to Atlanta. Hightower ran a stretch to the left for his third touchdown in as many weeks. Few 30-year-old running backs get much attention in free agency, which is Hightower's next stop. His skill set might translate best down by the Bayou, but don't be surprised if he has a number of suitors given his ability to both barrel through defenders near the goal line and contribute in the passing game.
Hightower gained 29 yards on eight rushes and secured his only target for 11 yards in Saturday's 31-24 win over the Bucs. Hightower played a clear second fiddle to backfield mate Mark Ingram, as the latter received 10 additional touches on the ground, and two more targets through the air. The 30-year old's involvement in the offense has been on a downward trend in recent weeks, with Hightower seeing single-digit carries in three of the past four games. He did score two touchdowns in the only game during that span in which he saw double-digit totes, Week 15 versus the Cardinals. The veteran will try to close out the season on a strong note against the Falcons in Week 17, but could once again find himself as only a complementary option to Ingram.
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