On Monday, the 49ers agreed to terms with former Arizona Cardinals running back and special teamer, Alfonso Smith.
The Niners are expected to place Hunter on Injured Reserve which would make room for Smith on the team's 90-man roster. The Niners will likely announce the official signing of Smith before Tuesdays practice.
The 27-year old was an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky who signed with the Cardinals in 2010. Smith rushed for 54 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries, while also catching 10 passes for 68 yards last season. He also fumbled twice, losing one of them.
How much playing time Smith will receive during the season remains to be seen. Although James dislocated his elbow, he is not expected to miss more than a month and should be ready for the beginning of the season.
But even with Hunter and James going down this past week, the Niners should still be consider "strong" at the running back position. Returning starter Frank Gore, while possibly entering the twilight of his career, is still a workhorse, with a big bodied, bruising tailback in Carlos Hyde as his backup; carries will be hard to come by after them.
Smith may not see much action out of the backfield during the regular season, but he could be in store for a fair share of carries during the exhibition games. Gore is a 10-year vet who doesn't need to be subjected to any possibility of an injury, and with Marcus Lattimore still absent from the practice field, the only remaining backs outside of Smith is Hyde and second- year back Jewel Hampton (who has never appeared in a regular season game).
So if SF's second week of practice goes anything like the first…an extra body could be more valuable than anything else.
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