There are plenty of unknowns surrounding the new-look 49ers in 2016, but one player, Carlos Hyde, was greeted with questions of optimism Saturday as the team reported for training camp in Santa Clara.
When asked if head coach Chip Kelly's offense being catered to the run would result in Hyde opening eyes around the league, the running back told reporters, "Um, yeah, definitely.
"Think this year is going to be a way better year than last year," he added. "Not just for me, but for the whole offense. Things will be good for everybody. I'm excited."
Hyde, who was drafted by the 49ers with the No. 57 overall pick out of Ohio State in 2014, has been limited in his first two seasons.
The running back since entering the league has played in just 21 of 32 potential regular-season games, and has started just seven total.
The presence of franchise rushing leader Frank Gore in 2014 kept Hyde in the shadows, and injuries derailed a promising start in 2015.
But Hyde is focused on the future.
"Personal goal, my number one goal is to stay healthy," he said Saturday and the team's facility. "Do whatever I have to do to make sure my body is A-1 come Sunday. After that, I'm trying to hit 1,500 yards. I do that, hats off to my offensive line, tight ends and receivers, because they did a hell of a job blocking."
Hyde has averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 198 career attempts. He has also forced 57 missed tackles in that time, according to Pro Football Focus (one every 3.47 carries). His forced missed tackles in 2015 ranked as the best ratio among running backs with at least 100 attempts.
Hyde also had the best elusive rating in the NFL last year, according to PFF's advanced analytics.
The running back is hoping to build on a small but quality body of work in 2016, and believes Kelly's system will allow him to do it.
"I kind of got used to it at Ohio State, I got used to it there," Hyde said of running out of the shotgun. "Even at Ohio State I wasn't expecting to get comfortable with that type of offense, but I did. Just buy into the system and learn it and seize your opportunity, you know, just see everything...It's just easy, I think it's easier, to me it is.
"I just feel like you get a better feel for it (from that spot in the shotgun)," the tailback said, elaborating to reporters. "You get to see, get a better feel for your linemen, see how the linebackers flowing. You know, you right there up on them. To me, it allows you to hit the hole a lot quicker. You're already downhill, you're right there up on them.
"This is a fast tempo offense. You got to be patient, you got to be patient. But I feel like you can play your game. If you want to play fast, you know, take your time on it, it's really up to the running back. Me, I just want to get going. Get my pads north and south, and get four to five yards every time.
"I got the confidence in myself, and I'm really looking forward to this year."