Jerick McKinnon's injury leaves a huge hole in the backfield, yet suddenly, second-year back Matt Breida leads the NFL in yards rushing per game (92.0), yards per attempt (8.4, clearly sustainable), and was the leader in yards rushing after Week 2 (184).
The former undrafted free agent was expected to have a bigger role in this year's offense after McKinnon's season-ending injury, and he's fulfilled that promise through two games. There are more electrifying backs in the league, but Breida is a natural fit in the 49ers' offense.
Against the Lions, Breida rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in a breakout performance.
Throughout the game, Breida showcased excellent vision and quickness behind the 49ers' run blocking. Here, on a designed run to the right, Breida finds a gap and bursts through while also providing a fantastic jump cut to get a first down and a lot more.
Breida's other noteworthy run came on his touchdown. Pierre Garcon's block is excellent, and I love that Breida stays patient and controls his speed, allowing the blocking to completely develop as he's finally able to race towards the end zone for the long touchdown score.
Matt Breida has been off to a really good start in San Francisco. His numbers against the Lions aren't sustainable, but that's just the nature of the game. As a runner I think he's better than Alfred Morris and deserves to start over him. In Shanahan's one-cut zone blocking offense, Breida has proven to be an efficient running back and quality replacement for Jerick McKinnon.
Playing at Kansas City is a true test, but that's more to do with the homefield advantage as opposed to the Chiefs' defense, which is extremely lacking. Breida should be fed constantly so long as the 49ers are in this game, and he's also a reliable pass-catching option as well.
So, to conclude, it's two games, but Matt Breida deserves some trust from the 49ers' coaching staff. He was a promising back in 2017 on limited carries, and appears to be scratching the surface of his potential in 2018.
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