Looking for a third player to throw into their running back rotation, the 49ers today tapped Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter with their fourth-round pick. Hunter is yet another player who either paid a pre-draft visit to the 49ers or had a private workout with the team.
Standing only 5-7 ¼ inches and weighing 200 pounds, Hunter has one of the lowest profiles of any running back in the draft. But he was very productive in college, rushing for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore before an injury-riddled junior year. He ran for only 382 yards while dealing with a stress fracture in his ankle. He bounced back this past season with 1,548 yards with 16 touchdowns.
The 49ers have three tailbacks under contract, Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon, who was last year's six-round pick, and Xavier Oman, who didn't play a snap in 2010. Gore has missed games in each of the last four seasons with injuries and is entering the final year of his contract. Hunter's role this season likely would be as a change-of-pace back who replaces free agent Brian Westbrook. Asked about his potential role in San Francisco, Hunter said, "I'd say i just have to work my way up and just do what the coaches need me to do."
Hunter has an odd pre-game ritual. While his teammates psyche themselves up before a game, Hunter is decidely low key. In fact, he tends to fall asleep. "I've been doing it since I was a kid -- taking a 10-minute nap before every game and just relax," he said. "When I wake up after the 10-minute period, I'm just ready to play."
Speaking of falling asleep .... As a way to spice things up during the lulls between picks, my cohorts and I have been placing $1 bets -- all proceeds go to charity or Togo's -- on who the 49ers draft next. If no one wins in a particular round, the money carries over to the next round. The Chron's Kevin Lynch was the big winner in Round 2 with Colin Kaepernick. The guy who hit on the fourth-round draft pick? Be sure to congratulate SI's Peter King -- twitter handle, @SI_PeterKing -- who chose Hunter. King won a whopping $8, but is not here today. I'll be sure to keep his winnings safely tucked in my wallet until I see him again ...
-- Matt Barrows