Last week, when Carlos Hyde met the media after reporting to training camp, the 49ers running back sounded half-asleep, or deathly bored, or perhaps both.
The lesson here: Don’t judge a back by his murmuring.
By the accounts of a few high-ranking members of the organization, Hyde is attacking football — if not his media responsibilities — with great enthusiasm.
Hyde has declared he’s the lightest (228 pounds) he’s been since high school and said he believes “he’s in the best shape of his life right now.” This, of course, is direct from the training-camp cliché manual, but there’s reason to believe Hyde is genuine.
The 2014 second-round pick is entering his contract year without a 1,000-yard season on his resume and the 49ers’ new regime has made it clear an extension isn’t imminent. Instead, Hyde, who has had zero competition in his first two seasons as a starter, will have to prove his worth to general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Lynch and Shanahan have added competition in free agency (Tim Hightower), the draft (Joe Williams) and via trade (Kapri Bibbs), while also adding undrafted rookie Matt Breida.
The moves were preceded by comments that suggested the new regime didn’t think Hyde was realizing his potential. At the combine, Lynch said he thought Hyde, who rushed for 988 yards and averaged 4.6 yards a carry last year, had “a lot more in him” and “we’re excited to pull that out of him.”
A few months later, Lynch seems to believe the 49ers have extracted some of the intangibles from Hyde that were previously lacking.
“What I saw was a guy who was challenged,” Lynch said on KNBR. “We brought in competition at that position and, somewhere along the way this offseason, he flipped a switch. I think (running backs coach) Bobby Turner is a master at this. And all the sudden, being in the best shape was really important to him.
“… The switch has been flipped for Carlos. You really see a different body type. We always hear ‘I’m in the best shape of my life,’ but here’s a guy who made a tangible and considerable change in his body makeup. But more so in his mentality.”
During the 49ers’ five-week break before training camp, Hyde stayed in the Bay Area and worked with conditioning coach Ray Wright. Part of his motivation could have been injury-related. Hyde has missed 14 of the 49ers’ past 34 games due to injuries to his ankle, foot, shoulder and knee.
“He started making a move, just his work ethic and just his attention to detail, about halfway through OTAs, which we were really excited about. when we broke camp earlier on in the offseason,” Shanahan said. “And then, coming back five weeks later and being able to see him, he’s even taken it to another level.”
During the offseason, Hyde went to Shanahan and asked why he wasn’t part of a special-teams unit, which is grunt work not done by starting NFL running backs. Hyde noted that Hightower was on special teams.
“Kyle came up and said how cool is this: ‘Carlos asked why he wasn’t on some of the special teams like Tim was,’” Lynch said. “That’s what we’re talking about when we say we believe that competition brings out the best in everyone.”
For his part, Hyde has downplayed the notion that added competition has inspired his approach.
“Just going into this season, I just wanted to do things differently,” Hyde said. “Do something different that I haven’t done. I’ve always played at 230 and above. I’ve had success playing at that weight before but I just wanted to do something different. I just wanted this whole season to be different.”
Hyde’s training camp actually began on a similar note.
Last year, he arrived in Santa Clara and said he weighed between “225 and 230 pounds” and declared his goal was to rush for 1,500 yards. Last week, he also announced he was fit and prepared to accomplish some lofty goals.
“My goal is to be the number one rushing running back in this league,” Hyde said. “And I feel like I have the best opportunity to do that now with this new staff, so I’m definitely looking forward to that. That’s my mindset going into this season is being number one at the end of the season.”
Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: EBranch@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Eric_Branch