The 49ers are in the market for a change-of-pace running back. They'll be hosting one, Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, on Monday, according to the National Football Post, and are expected to attend the Thursday workout of another, Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones.
The 49ers coaching staff also is quite familiar with another player who fits that category, Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers. Although Rodgers does not have a visit scheduled with the team, according to his agent, he doesn't exactly need one. The 49ers' tight end coach, Reggie Davis, spent the last three years as Rodgers' position coach at Oregon State.
Rodgers also has played against Jim Harbaugh and several of his assistants the last three seasons. In 2009, when Stanford was pushing running back Toby Gerhart for the Heisman Trophy, it was Rodgers who stole the spotlight in the Beavers' 38-28 victory. He rushed for 189 yards - his best at Oregon State - including a 61-yard burst. He also caught five passes for 82 yards and scored four touchdowns in the game.
His other two meetings were more modest. In 2008, the year in which Rodgers became the first freshman in Pac-10 history to win its offensive MVP award, he rushed 14 times for 54 yards against Stanford. Last season, he rushed 17 times for 76 yards and caught four passes for 31 yards in a 38-0 loss.
A year ago at this time, general manager Trent Baalke noted the trend in the NFL to have three running backs who complement one another. Later that year, he drafted big-bodied Anthony Dixon and signed one of the best receiving backs in the last 20 years, Brian Westbrook, to the 49ers' backfield. Westbrook again is a free agent this year and appears unlikely to return to San Francisco. The 49ers will try to find someone for that role.
Meanwhile, the 49ers' workhorse runner, Frank Gore, has missed games in each of the last four seasons with injuries. He is not expected to be slowed by his latest, a broken hip, in 2011. However, he is entering the final year of his contract.
-- Matt Barrows