SANTA CLARA -- He was a running back at Tennessee when he decided to make a move with his NFL future in mind.
Jalen Hurd was being run into the ground in Knoxville. In three seasons, he carried 589 times for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns. At his size, he presented a large target for defensive players.
Hurd sustained a concussion in October 2016 after battling a nagging ankle injury. He never played for Tennessee again.
He asked to convert to wide receiver. The Tennessee staff resisted the position switch for Hurd, the team’s leading rusher in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He eventually transferred to Baylor, where he played wide receiver last season. He caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns.
On Friday, the 49ers selected Hurd with the No. 67 overall pick of the NFL draft.
“I didn’t just do this on a whim. I researched it,” Hurd said in an interview last year with Bleacher Report. “Running backs last 3.5 years in the NFL. Wide receivers can last 10 or more years.”
On a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Friday, Hurd was asked if he wanted to move to wide receiver to take fewer hits.
“Not as much of that as in me wanting to just play longer and just be more versatile, and I knew that I was,” Hurd said. “So just being more versatile, being able to play longer in both scenarios.”
Hurd underwent a procedure to repair a torn meniscus in his knee late in the season. The 49ers held a private workout for Hurd, but he might be held out of next week’s rookie minicamp.
Hurd’s days as a running back might not be over now that he is with the 49ers. But coach Kyle Shanahan expects him to continue to grow as a wide receiver.
“He's played receiver for one year,” Shanahan said. “He has the ability to continue to get more separation skills, but he can cut, especially with his size and hands.
“You can put him in the backfield, too, and run a running play with him. You can run power. You can treat him like a running back, not just a receiver who occasionally goes back there, which I think's neat.”
Hurd weighed nearly 250 pounds as a running back. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Hurd checked in at 6-foot-5, 226 pounds. He comes to the 49ers as a receiver and will work with receivers coach Wes Welker and quality control coach Miles Austin.
“I don't think that's where it stops,” Shanahan said. “We'll see how his body ends up being here over the years and while he does it, I also hope we can give him a few carries here and there.”