• Matt Woolsey

Hail Hydra: What the New 49ers Running Back Corps Brings to the Offense

Image Credit: Atlanta Falcons

The 49ersHub’s own Marcos Sanz called the 49ers backfield a hydra. It was a good comparison looking back to last year, when one head was cut off another one took its place. Sure, all the running backs played great when they were in the lineup. But not having a constant running back takes a toll on the offense. We already know the playbook was changed when last season’s big free agent signing Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL right before the start of the season. So, what’s the big plan for the backfield going into 2019? For starters, McKinnon and Matt Breida are still under contract and look to be the main starters. Raheem Mostert was getting some free agency love but the 49ers locked him up on a three-year deal. One has to believe this is mostly due to the fact he is a special teams extraordinaire. It is still a crowded backfield though considering the 49ers also signed free agent Tevin Coleman to a two-year deal worth $10 million dollars.

I’m not going to lie. At first, I was thinking what in the world is Shanahan and Lynch doing? Then I realized exactly what this signing was: an insurance policy. Coleman knows the Shanahan system from his days in Atlanta when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. Shanahan knows Coleman and knows how to get the best out of him; something former Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian didn’t know how to do. Coleman is an insurance policy with McKinnon coming off his ACL injury, but I think Breida is the odd man out in this case.

McKinnon will remain the starter, he’s playing the Devonta Freeman role from Shanahan’s days in Atlanta. And who is playing the Tevin Coleman role? Well none other than Tevin Coleman himself. Breida is a really good running back but he wasn’t able to stay healthy last season. He would come in, get tackled, and limp of the field every other game. He would be great in a backup or companion role, but not as a starter. Not until he proves he can stay healthy.

But even though I said Breida is the odd man out I don’t look for him to get cut, he’s too cheap not to keep. He may end up as a trade candidate before the trade deadline but I except all these running backs to be on the roster come Week 1. Shanahan is going to want to make sure he doesn’t have to revise his playbook like he had to do last season.

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