Players trading jerseys has become a popular postgame tradition in the NFL. Former teammates, respected adversaries and personal connections are all common reasons for guys to swap threads.
Carlos Hyde already knows who’s getting his jersey following the San Francisco 49ers upcoming battle with the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4. That would be rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott. The pair of highly touted Ohio State running backs crossed over for one season in college.
In 2013, Hyde racked up 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior for the Buckeyes while Elliott waited in the wings as “El Guapo’s” heir apparent. A freshman at the time, Elliott ran the ball 30 times for 262 yards and two touchdowns that season.
“Zeke is like a little brother to me,” Hyde said during a recent sit-down interview with 49ers Studios. “I’m definitely going to swap jerseys with him. That’s my guy right there.”
Hyde hasn’t been surprised by Elliott’s immediate success in the NFL. This year’s fourth-overall pick already has two touchdowns on the year and posted 140 rushing yards last Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Dallas’ new bell cow running back is coming off of back-to-back 1,800-yard seasons at Ohio State with 41 total touchdowns.
“I knew he was going to be good,” Hyde said. “I definitely knew he was the next guy up when I was leaving. He definitely took over the role and kept it going at Ohio State. He’s kept it going into the (NFL), and he’s doing a great job right now with the Cowboys.”
Elliott attributes a portion of his success to the valuable time he spent as Hyde’s understudy in Columbus. The rookie told Dallas reporters on Wednesday that he used to watch Hyde’s college game film in an attempt to adopt his physical running style.
“He was a guy I got to learn behind when I first got to college,” Elliott said. “I saw how physical he was and how good he was after contact. I think that was something that, when I saw in my sophomore year and was trying to work on it – just kind of getting those yards after contact, working on my pad level. I watched a lot of film of him from the year before.”
Hyde has 225 rushing yards on the season, and his four touchdowns are tied for most in the NFL. He’ll look for his second straight 100-yard performance on Sunday to help the 49ers top Elliott and the Cowboys.
The former college teammates don’t plan on talking throughout the week, but Hyde said that he’ll be sure to find Elliott on the field before kickoff.
“I’m too focused. We’re trying to win,” Hyde said. “I don’t have time to talk to nobody.”