Marshawn Lynch isn't the only NFC West running back who should be bracing for a 15-20 percent cut in his carries this season.
ESPN's John Clayton wrote Thursday about 10 under-the-radar position battles entering training camp. He touched on the 49ers' situation at backup running back and who among them -- Marcus Lattimore , Carlos Hyde, specifically -- will win the No. 2 on the depth chart. No matter whom the winner is, Clayton writes: "The early word out of San Francisco is that Frank Gore might get 50 fewer carries this year."
Kendall Hunter wasn't mentioned in the blurb even though he is still Gore's backup. It's looking like Hyde has the most upside for this season since we just don't know if Lattimore's body will ever respond the way it used to before a series of horrible knee injuries in college. Hyde could carve out an early role as the team's goal-line back.
Gore carried the ball 276 times last season. Do the math, and this assumes Gore will likely see 220-230 carries if Clayton's source is true. If I had to come up with a comparison from 2013, I think Gore profiles as a slightly richer man's BenJarvus Green-Ellis . Or perhaps Fred Jackson with fewer catches. He'll have a decent yards-per-carry average and probably still run for 1,000, if barely. Gore is only a low-end RB2 with the arrow pointing down. The Niners figure to put the game on Colin Kaepernick 's shoulders more often in 2014.