Brandon Jacobs
Brandon Jacobs, a former New York Giants running back, drove in a police-escorted caravan to the New Jersey playground, however, it has not been confirmed whether he was part of the group Jersey officials are investigating, his agent said on April 23. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

The San Francisco 49ers have added big name wide receivers such as Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to provide even more targets for quarterback Alex Smith to compete in the pass-happy NFL.

The additions to the wide receiving corps have gotten most of the press, but one overlooked improvement the 49ers have made this off-season has been bolstering its depth at the running back position.

In addition to signing All-Pro running back Frank Gore to a three-year extension, the 49ers have also signed a variety of different style running backs to keep opposing defenses guessing.

The 49ers recently signed former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs to a one-year deal as a transition third-down back.

Known throughout the league as one of the hardest running backs to tackle, due to his enormous size, his style of play will allow Gore to get more hand-offs in zone-running schemes, which should keep him healthier over the duration of the season.

The 49ers also added LaMichael James, a former Heisman candidate at Oregon, in the second round of this year's draft.

James, who was one of the most dominating running backs Oregon has ever seen, is an explosive and agile back that is considered to be an ankle-breaker to the defense.

The one thing you notice about him is he's a playmaker, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. He's done it against the very best in college football on a consistent basis, which is hard to do. When you get the ball in his hands, he can make plays.

What we've tried to do is add speed and explosiveness to this offense, to this football team.

With the mixture of experience among the three backs, the competition in camp will only increase, and the 49ers ultimately will be even better going into the start of the regular season.

San Francisco will also welcome back last year's backup Kendall Hunter and former sixth-round pick Anthony Davis.

The 49ers open up their regular season against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 9.