The 49ers appear to have lost one of their top reserve running backs for the season.
Fourth-year pro Kendall Hunter has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the team said Saturday morning. The injury seems likely to end Hunter’s campaign, assuming the standard recovery of close to a year for an ACL tear.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Hunter sustained the injury after catching a short pass in Friday’s practice.
With Hunter out for an extended stretch, rookie tailback Carlos Hyde seemingly has a chance to push for a key backup role in his first NFL season. LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore are also in the mix for carries behind starter Frank Gore.
The 25-year-old Hunter racked up 358 yards and three TDs on 78 carries in 2013. Overall, he’s rushed for 1,202 yards and seven TDs in regular season play since entering the NFL in 2011, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt.
This is the second major leg injury Hunter has suffered in less than two years. He sustained a torn Achilles tendon in 2012, but he returned to play all 16 games last year.