Image Credit: Sports Illustrated
Before suffering a season-ending broken arm during the 49ers’ 34-3 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football, running back Raheem Mostert had been enjoying his best season as a pro. His 34 carries for 261 yards were far and away career bests as Mostert spent most of his time bouncing from practice squad to practice squad. Over the last four games, he has emerged as the primary backup to RB Matt Breida with 24% of the total carries. Replacing the fourth-year journeyman could prove a more daunting task than it appears on the surface. Here’s a look at some of the players that could step into Mostert’s role on offense.
Brought in at the tail end of training camp, veteran Alfred Morris came with a familiarity of Kyle Shanahan’s zone run scheme. Following RB Jerick McKinnon’s torn ACL, Morris’ roster spot was secured as he opened the season as the complementary back to Breida. However, his lack of explosiveness and limitations in the passing game resulted in him being leapfrogged by Mostert beginning in the Monday Night loss against the Green Bay Packers. Morris is averaging 3.5 yards per carry on the year despite playing behind one of the better run blocking offensive lines in the league. In order to regain his position in the depth chart, Morris will have to improve down the stretch.
Jeff Wilson/Matt Dayes
Matt Breida and Alfred Morris are the only two healthy running backs on the active roster at the moment. Jeff Wilson and Matt Dayes represent two players on the practice squad who could be activated to round out the running back depth. Wilson is an undrafted free agent out of North Texas and Dayes was a seventh-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2017 before being cut prior to the start of this season. Wilson has excellent vision as a runner but lacks top-end speed to fully capitalize at the NFL level. Dayes excelled in outside zone runs at NC State; however, he struggles to run through arm tackles. Either one of them could receive the call before the Monday Night matchup against the New York Giants.
The league’s highest paid fullback has proven to be a jack of all trades in Shanahan’s offense. Juszczyk has only carried the ball five times for 18 yards but has added 21 receptions for 255 yards and a score. With Nick Mullens getting the start against the Giants, Juszczyk could see extended action in both the run and pass game. Shanahan is a puppet master when it comes to utilizing Juszczyk and should have some tricks up his sleeve with the injuries mounting.
The 49ers had an open tryout for multiple players at multiple positions on Wednesday. Among them was running back Jeremy Langford. Langford last played for the Chicago Bears in 2016 but did manage to log 11 total touchdowns in 28 games over 2015 and 2016. At 26 years old, he could provide fresh legs and experience in the passing game to help out Mullens. Langford also had 41 receptions for 421 yards for the Bears.
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