Such is the shifting nature of the NFL, which saw no ball carriers selected in the first round for a second consecutive year. Although thought to be the premier back of this year's crop, Hyde had to wait longer than expected. The 2013 Big Ten running back of the year became the third running back selected when the San Francisco 49ers selected him in the second round with the 57th overall pick.
Despite missing three games in 2013 due to a suspension, Hyde still thrived last fall. With 1,521 yards on 208 carries, he became the first non-quarterback coached by Urban Meyer to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry and found the end zone 15 times while leading the Buckeyes to a second consecutive unbeaten regular season and 12-2 overall record. That 7.3 YPC average ranked top in Ohio State history, while his 10.2 yards per carry against Illinois in 2013 and career average of 6.1 also ranked as the best among Buckeyes.
Hyde entered the NFL Combine with the confidence of a player who could land in the first round, but his performance didn't necessarily fulfill his expectations. After setting a goal for a sub-4.50 40-yard dash, Hyde was clocked with an official time of 4.66 seconds. He showed off his bruising ability by cranking out 19 bench press reps, but even that ranked 13th in his position – a group in which he was supposedly one of the strongest members. His efforts in the vertical jump (34.5 inches) and broad jump (9-6) also didn't crack the top 15 for running backs.
Still, his performance – and film – impressed scouts enough to make him a second-round choice.
"Hyde finished his Ohio State career with 3,198 yards (6th best) and 41 touchdowns (4th best)," Scout draft analyst Jamie Newberg wrote in his draft preview. "In 2013 was the Big Ten's Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year after rushing for 1,521 yards and 15 scores. This is a 230-pound truck that runs with tremendous power. He's a between the tackles, downhill bulldozer that nets yards after contact. He's surprisingly light on his feet for his size and style. Hyde can catch out of the backfield and do a solid job in pass protection." After a prep year at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, the Naples, Fla., product entered Columbus as a four-star prospect and the No. 1-ranked fullback in the country. After carrying the ball just 24 times as a true freshman in 2010, he first found the end zone in 2011 when he amassed 566 yards and six touchdowns on 106 carries as a sophomore.
His breakout season came one season later when Meyer arrived. Hyde just missed the 1,000-yard mark, churning his way to 970 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns. He also showed some versatility with eight catches for 51 yards and one score.