Kendall Hunter did not finish the 2012 season on a good note. The third year back for the 49ers was losing his backup job to the rising LaMichael James and ended up suffering a season ending Achilles injury in Week 12. As his season came to a halt, James continued to shine and entered camp as the likely backup to Frank Gore.
While James was being given the opportunity to be next in line for carries, Hunter started the preseason on the PUP list. However, since he came off that list on August 10th, Hunter has impressed both teammates and coaches. During two preseason games, Hunter rushed for 27 yards on 7 carries, but looks to have not missed a step since his injury.
James, on the other hand, has not shown the same burst he displayed last year. Too make matter worse, James suffered a sprained MCL in the 49ers’ final preseason game. Projected to miss at least a month, the injury only cemented Hunter’s status as the No.2 back.
With Hunter back on the field and in his normal role as Frank Gore’s backup, fantasy owners could be looking at Hunter as a handcuff for Gore – a player with injury risks and who is on the wrong side of 30. But Hunter could also be valuable in his current role in deeper leagues. Before going down last year, Hunter compiled 371 yards and 2 touchdowns in 10 games with an offense that loves to run the ball.
Hunter should be owned by most Gore owners, as his value will skyrocket if Gore does go down, but could be worth a pick late in drafts too.