The San Francisco 49ers have added backfield depth this off season but questions remain about which players will actually contribute or make the team. After orchestrating his sixth trade of the draft by giving up the 143rd and 161st picks to Colts for the 121st overall, general manager John Lynch may have drafted a contender. Utah running back Joe Williams not only appears to be someone who could see meaningful snaps out of the backfield, he says he is coming for Carlos Hyde’s job (quotes courtesy of 49ers PR):
“I’m the seventh running back on the roster, so for me to be that starter and to take that starting job that I think [RB] Carlos Hyde has, I’m just going to come to work every day and just show the coaches and the guys that they can trust me in the game.”
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Joe Williams stands 5’11” and 210 pounds and finished his last season at Utah in the top 20 nationally with 1,420 rushing yards, including 10 touchdowns in 9 games and a game against UCLA where he put up 333 yards and 4 touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams 22 runs of 15-plus yards were 10th-most in 2016 among draft-eligible running backs despite having the 20th-most rushing attempts. His strengths include his speed, acceleration, lateral agility and ability to get small through holes.
Williams red flags pertain to fumbles and character issues. He was dismissed from Connecticut for alleged improper use of credit card and actually retired from college football, raising questions about his commitment to the game.
But John Lynch has likely done his due diligence and Williams said he spoke with San Francisco scouts about his situation at the scouting combine. If Williams character concerns are indeed a thing of the past, Carlos Hyde might indeed have to look over his shoulder sooner rather than later.