Question: As of now, the 49ers have five running backs on their roster: Frank Gore, Maurice Hicks, Michael Robinson, Zak Keasey, and Thomas Clayton. Hicks is a solid backup and good kick returner. I don't know much about former practice-squadder Keasey. Clayton seems like he will be a solid Reggie Bush-type tailback-receiver. After a mediocre last year, I'm not so sure about Robinson. Gore is obviously going to have a spot, but other than that, how do you see roster spots panning out? And what are your judgments on the others? How do you see backfield touches being distributed next season?
Answer: Frank Gore wants to set the rushing record, but I think the coaching staff wants him to have fewer snaps than he had last year. Of course, that is more easily said than done. In a tight game, who do you want touching the ball? If Gore does get more rest, my guess is Robinson and Clayton would get more work. Everyone is down on Robinson because of his short-yardage struggles last season. But the coaching staff loves him and will give him plenty of opportunities. He's such a smart guy that it's hard to see him not succeeding. As far as Clayton, he's very good at catching the ball out of the backfield. If he can master the blocking schemes this summer, he'll get some reps on third down.
- Matt Barrows