KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not long ago, Carlos Hyde was one of the top emerging running backs in the NFL.
He finished the 2017 season by playing all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career with the San Francisco 49ers. The result was a three-year, $15 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.
They hoped he could build off a season that finished with nearly 1,300 total yards and eight rushing scores. But as Nick Chubb emerged as the top early-down back, the Browns shipped Hyde off to Jacksonville. He finished the season with just 571 yards rushing and five scores.
One day after he was released, the Chiefs signed the 28-year-old to a deal to compete with a young nucleus for backfield touches.
“For a running back like me who likes to catch the ball, it would be like a dream come true,” Hyde said of joining the Chiefs. “It’s not just a one-dimensional running back here. You do it all. You line up at receiver. You actually run routes. You’re not just a decoy.
“You really get to showcase your ability. I didn’t know they used the running back so much in the passing game until I got here. It put a smile on my face.”
During his final campaign in the Bay Area, he caught 59 passes for 350 yards, a skill needed to play in Andy Reid’s offense.
Last year, 97 catches were made by the team’s backfield group, nearly one fourth of the completions by MVP Patrick Mahomes.
While starting 13 games for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, Hyde gained 988 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. He followed that up with 938 rushing yards in 2017.
“I felt like this was a good place for a running back to get on the right track,” Hyde said. “I’ve just seen previous running backs and the success that they’ve had in Kansas City with Coach Reid.”
The coaching staff has declared the No. 1 spot that of Damien Williams. But getting a chance to play alongside Mahomes — a luxury Hyde has never benefited from — could prove big for Kansas City and the former Ohio State Buckeye.
“Playing with guys like that is special, and I’m definitely excited to be playing with him,” Hyde said. “When the play breaks down, you just continue to play because he’s going to be able to find you. You can be 80 yards down the field, and he will find you.”
Before he can compete at training camp for early-down and No. 2 reps, Hyde must be able to master the many details that come with being a tailback in Reid’s system. From pre-snap movement to catching the ball and helping in pass protection, Hyde felt minicamp as a turning point in the offseason.
“It’s coming together now,” Hyde said. “This minicamp has been good for me. I’ve been playing fast. I have a good feel on the offense, but it’s definitely complex for a running back. It’s a lot on our plate, which is good.
“You get to run the ball, catch the ball, do it all.”