The season may be over for running back Kendall Hunter before it even began.
On Saturday morning, the San Francisco 49ers confirmed that the fourth-year pro tore his ACL in his right knee during a 7-on-7 non-contact drill that occurred Friday afternoon, the teams second practice of the year.
According to the teams official website, Hunter caught a swing pass out of the backfield and went to the ground after trying to make an up-field move. As cornerback Perrish Cox closed in on Hunter in the open field, Cox quickly backed off as the running back went to the ground.
The Niners training staff were concerned about the injury when it occurred, but were uncertain about the severity of the injury, as Hunter was able to walk off the practice field under his on power. The training staff's fears were confirmed when an MRI revealed the ACL tear.
As for the team itself, the injury may not be as severe. The 49ers entered training camp as one of the deepest teams in the league at the running back position. Hunter looked to remain the teams primary back up to workhorse starter Frank Gore, but did have competition for the amount of carries he would recieve this season. Rookie second-round pick Carlos Hyde looks to be the early beneficiary to Hunter's injury, while LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore and long-shot Jewel Hampton all move up in the pecking order. Lattimore is a phenomenal talent but will be monitored closely as he continues to build his game strength. Lattimore has yet to see the field as he remains on the teams Non-Football Injury list.
This is the second major injury for Hunter during his tenure with the 49ers. He suffered an Achilles injury late in the 2012 season which forced him to miss the rest of the year, including the playoffs.
The ACL injury is not only likely to end the year for Hunter, but possibly his career with the Niners. The Oklahoma State product is entering the final year of his rookie four-year contract.
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