Earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers shocked the NFL world by first trying to trade LB NaVorro Bowman, then flat out releasing him. Shortly after that word came out that GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan were making calls to trade RB Carlos Hyde. After the loss to Washington, Shanahan vehemently stated that those rumors were false. Lynch and Shanahan have been forthright towards confirming or denying trade rumors thus far in their tenure, but are they now?
If it weren't for the release of Bowman, the rumor alone would seem to feel like an awkwardly timed April fool's prank. The release of Bowman throws out everything we knew about the makeup of the roster and how the team views it. At this point we now know nothing and no one is safe or sacred. is Staleys spot safe? Being one of the better offensive lineman in the league, maybe they make a play to send him to a contender if someone calls. QB Aaron Rodgers went down this weekend with a broken collarbone and will likely miss the rest of the season. Maybe Lynch calls them up and offers to eat half of QB Brian Hoyers contract in exchange for a WR. The simpler offense and Rodgers coaching from the sidelines could do well for Hoyer. A change of scenery seemed to do wonders for Adrian Peterson.
These examples now bring us back to Hyde. Hyde took the overwhelming majority of snaps compared to RB Matt Breida (56 to 17) as well as touches (18 to 6). Could they be trying to showcase him leading up to the Bye week following the game against The Giants?
Showcasing Hyde as a power runner who can get in the end zone, but is powerful enough to be an every down back would certainly make him attractive. The New England Patriots have 2 RBs they could replace with Hyde and leave them with a roster spot to fill on defense.
On the other side of the coin is Breida. Breida is only 5-foot-11 and 190 lbs. He doesn't fit the mold of your traditional every down back. Were they to trade Hyde, they'd need to figure out a way to split carries with Breida and RB Raheem Mostert, and likely call up RB Jeremy McNichols from the practice squad. This is a very awkward committee for what would be not the greatest return on investment. While the idea of stashing draft picks is not a new idea, quality is always better than quantity. Just ask the Cleveland Browns.
Let's now take a look at three teams that would be the best fit for Hyde.
3. Dallas Cowboys
We are still waiting to see whether or not RB Ezekiel Elliott will be suspended following the allegations of domestic abuse, but if he does, the backups are Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Neither of them can carry a team the way Zeke can. Were they to trade for Hyde, they'd have one of the best power running back tandems the league has ever seen. Demarcus Lawrence is flashing more this season than any time in his career. Dallas may decide that performing well in a contract year isn't worth it to them. A straight trade of Hyde for Lawrence would help both teams.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens currently have Buck Allen, Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon. None of them are good and with Flacco not performing in the passing game, questions have arisen on whether this offense can bounce back. Hyde being traded to Baltimore instantly gives a dynamic presence to this team and could help take the pressure off Flacco.
1. Cleveland Browns
As I said earlier, the Browns have taken the "Moneyball" approach to football, and have kind of floundered with it (not unlike the A's). Injuries and departures have left the offensive side of the ball barren. RB Isaiah Crowell has been less than productive, and RB Duke Johnson is the teams best receiver right now. Inserting Hyde into their offense will take loads of pressure off QB Kevin Hogan (or Deshone Kizer. Or Cody Kessler). Besides, they have more than enough draft picks that throwing one out for Hyde would not hurt them at all in their plans. Whatever those plans may be.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether or not the 49ers would risk trading Hyde this season. They would likely get a better return on investment if they let him walk and get the compensatory pick. Maybe playing an entire season (if he can) will make him attractive to other teams and decide he's worth the risk, but for right now, talent is a scarce commodity on the roster. It's important to hold onto the talent you have.
What do you think of the trade rumors for Hyde? Let us know on twitter and stay tuned to 49ersHUB for more great content!