49ers' Joe Williams: Could unseat Hyde before Week 1
Williams could have a chance to unseat Carlos Hyde (knee) from the lead role before Week 1, CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reports.
New head coach Kyle Shanahan made a strong push convincing the San Francisco front office to draft Williams, who was ultimately selected in the fourth round at No. 121 overall. General manager John Lynch initially planned to avoid the Utah product, but Lynch changed his mind when he learned that Williams' brief retirement from football during his senior season at Utah was motivated by the running back's need to deal with continuing grief from his sister's death. Williams rejoined the team after a month-long absence and proceeded to run for 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns in only seven games, producing at a clip of 7.1 yards per carry. He then ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds at the Combine, where he also had strong marks in the broad jump (125 inches) and 20-yard shuttle (4.19 seconds). Meanwhile, the oft-injured Hyde is entering the final season of his rookie contract, having missed 14 of a possible 48 games through three years. Hyde has mostly done strong work as an early-down runner when he's been healthy, but the rebuilding 49ers may still prioritize Williams' development if both players prove to be deserving of roles. Offseason addition Tim Hightower also figures to take on some snaps -- particularly on passing downs -- as Williams only caught nine passes during his senior season, and Hyde has never been much of a receiving threat.
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