If you want to be a capable backup to one of the game’s most well-rounded running backs, you better be considered as a “four-down player.”
That’s exactly what Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter represents and it’s the biggest reason why the 49ers made him the No. 115 overall selection in the fourth-round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Hunter’s all-around skill set at 5-foot-7, 199 pounds, allows him to run the power game, run around the edges of a defense, pass protect, return kickoffs and even play on special teams coverage units.
So even if Frank Gore continues to receive most of the running back snaps in 2011, Hunter can still help the team in a myriad of ways.
“We’re not looking at him as a change-of-pace back,” general manager Trent Baalke said at his review of the 49ers recent draft class. “We think he’s a four-down back.”
Hunter’s talent was on full display at Baalke’s review, which allowed the general manager to further explain Hunter’s ability to do everything needed from a running back.
Baalke praised Hunter’s quickness, strength, burst and energy as reasons for making the selection.
Baalke also raved on how Hunter finished runs. “You don’t see him get caught from behind a whole lot,” he added.
Hunter, a two-time All-American, was hard to bring down in general. He made 23 starts for the Cowboys, rushing for 4,181 yards and 37 touchdowns on 708 carries. He also caught 63 passes for 519 yards and two touchdowns.
And although Hunter didn’t post eye-popping numbers at the Scouting Combine, Baalke and the 49ers were comfortable with his playing speed.
“Is he a 4.3 guy? No,” Baalke said. “But, he’s got very good speed. We love his feet, his vision and love the fact he can step through tackles.”
Baalke said the 49ers figured Hunter could be an every down back after his pass blocking performance at the Senior Bowl. Matched up against the best senior pass rushers and linebackers, Hunter held his own in the one-on-one drills.
The 49ers liked the catching ability Hunter displayed at the Scouting Combine as well. Though Oklahoma State’s offense didn’t feature many passes to the running backs, Hunter’s catching talents were noticed by the 49ers in the combine drills.
Wednesday on Goal Posts, we’ll cover Baalke’s comments on the 49ers’ next two draft selections: Appalachian State offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore and USC wide receiver Ronald Johnson.
Tags: Kendall Hunter, Trent Baalke
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