Former 1,000-Yard RB ‘Expendable’ Enough to Join 49ers: Analyst

Kareem Hunt

Getty Kareem Hunt in a 2018 game versus the 49ers.

Come Wednesday, March 16 after 1 p.m. PT, the San Francisco 49ers could be in for a depleted running back room with four free agents representing the backfield.

Or the 49ers could add new depth as the 2022 free agency signing period begins.

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And that depth, per one NFL analyst from Bleacher Report, could come in the form of a trade. Ian Wharton compiled a list of nine players he believes will get swapped to another place and he has some potential future 49ers on his March 8 list.

Among them? A former 1,000-yard rusher who is looking more like he’s getting lost in the shuffle with the Cleveland Browns — and who Wharton believes can be “expendable” enough to be traded despite having $6.25 million left on his current deal: Kareem Hunt.


Hunt’s Fit With the 49ers

Wharton labeled Hunt as one of two tradable Browns this offseason alongside wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

Hunt showed lots of promise early on as a rookie with the Kansas City Chiefs: Combining for 1,782 yards of offense and 11 touchdowns running and receiving in 2017.

Since then, however, Hunt has never gone past 841 rushing yards and 378 receiving yards per Pro Football Reference. Here’s why Wharton believes Hunt is trade worthy:

“Cleveland would save that entire amount (the $6.25 million from Hunt) in a trade, and it’s clear this extension (two-year extension he signed in June 2021) was structured to allow an out for the team. Hunt turns just 27 this summer and had more than 78 rushes just once in the past three years. He’s stuck behind Nick Chubb, though, and the emergence of D’Ernest Johnson should make Hunt expendable despite his talent.”

Hunt started just one game this past season with the Browns. One of the few highlights he had was this long run versus the Chicago Bears:

However, he was a productive red zone option the last time the Browns were in the playoffs:

The 2020 season was also the last time Hunt combined for 10 or more touchdowns in a single season (11 total with 6 rushing). So Hunt has been valuable when called upon. But again, Cleveland has gravitated toward the three-time 1,000-yard rusher Chubb as their No. 1 back. Meanwhile, Johnson finished second on the Browns with 534 rushing yards.


What Could Hunt be Worth if the ‘Niners Pursue?

For a former Pro Bowler and relatively young running back, Hunt is considered someone who won’t command a high value in free agency.

Per Spotrac, Hunt has a base salary of $1,350,000 in 2022 with the Browns should he play out the final year of his extension. Wharton believes that if the Browns and 49ers, or any team, would make a deal for Hunt, it would be worth relinquishing someone getting drafted between rounds four to seven in the NFL Draft:

Hunt is an excellent rusher and receiver, capable of attaining an elite stat line. He’s so comfortable as a receiver that it’s surprising the Browns didn’t use him in the slot more often when their receiving room was decimated. He would be worth a Day 3 pick for running back-needy teams wanting a potential star for the short term.

Hunt isn’t just considered a potential fit for the 49ers. The Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and the Mike McDaniel-led Miami Dolphins are tabbed as possible landing spots.

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