Early Predictions on 49ers RB Depth Chart and Season Stats
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The Running Man is a popular dance move created by MC Hammer but should be used as a nickname for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. A coach with a run first mentality and a highly intelligent zone blocking scheme, Shanahan’s offense is predicated on running the ball and utilizing play-action fakes. Play-action is most effective when you have a successful running game with a coach who is willing to commit to running early and often. In 2019, the 49ers offense had a ton of success, running the ball on 51 percent of their plays. The only team that ran more was Baltimore, who ran 54 percent of the time with a mobile quarterback.
The 49ers ran significantly less in 2020, running on 41 percent of plays, but that was expected when they were often playing from behind. The 49ers’ offensive recipe for success is to establish the run every game. Here are some early predictions on the 49ers running back depth and some potential stats for each player:
A speedy and explosive running back who is just one year removed from a 220-yard performance decimating the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, Mostert is set to carry a big load in 2021. It is expected that Mostert and Trey Sermon will receive the bulk of the carries this year.
Barring injuries and playing a full season, my projection for Mostert is 175 carries for 850 yards; 15 receptions for 135 yards; 7 touchdowns.
The 49ers took Sermon in the third round with the eighty-eighth pick in this year’s draft. Sermon showed up huge in the Big Ten championship game, rushing for 331 yards, and following up that monster performance with a 193-yard performance in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson. His talent and hard-nosed running ability are evident and it’s clear that Coach Shanahan has big plans for Sermon in 2021. It’s been talked about that Sermon may be the starting running back taking over as the first down runner for Tevin Coleman.
My projection for Sermon is 220 carries for 982 yards; 9 receptions for 42 yards;10 touchdowns.
Jeff Wilson Jr.
Wilson will be starting the 2021 season on the PUP list. Wilson’s injury was reported to be a torn meniscus that required surgery and the earliest date that Wilson can return will be Week 7 on October 24. Wilson was the 49ers’ leading rusher in 2020, logging 600 yards on 126 attempts. Getting Wilson back in Week 7 will be a positive for a team that has been banged up at the running back position over the past few years, but this Niners roster is deep,and he will be fighting for carries in 2021.
My projection for Wilson is 72 carries for 342 yards; 12 receptions for 115 yards; 4 touchdowns.
Mitchell was selected in the sixth round with the 194th pick in the draft. A speedy back who logged a 4.32 40-yard dash was a bit of a surprise selection as the 49ers currently have a deep running back room and had already taken Trey Sermon in the third round. Mitchell’s explosiveness was too enticing for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to pass up and at the least, he will provide quality depth should Mostert or another running back get injured.
Projection: 54 carries for 248 yards;14 receptions for 108 yards; 1 touchdown.
Juszczyk will continue to be utilized heavily as a blocker and will occasionally have some sneaky good receptions.
Projection:8 carries for 20 yards; 9 receptions for 87 yards; 2 touchdowns.
Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk
Although they are not running backs, they will be involved in the running game as Shanahan will deploy a number of reverses and fly sweeps. When you have players, who can do things like Aiyuk’s leaping touchdown with the ball in his hand, you must get them the ball any way possible, including on running plays.
Combined projected stats: 24 carries for 147 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Even if Lance spends the entire 2021 season behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, I would expect to see him get some reps in games with some read-option plays. His rushing ability is too good to have him sit on the bench the entire season.
Lance will provide some quality plays and I project his rushing stats to be 20 carries for 102 yards, 2 touchdowns.
The 49ers’ other backs currently on the roster, Wayne Gallman, JaMycal Hasty, and fullback Josh Hokit are unlikely to make the opening day roster. I expect Gallman will likely end up with another team after initial cuts and the 49ers will try and sneak Hasty and Hokit onto the practice squad. The 49ers invested heavily in their offensive line this offseason, and with a beefed-up o-line, one thing we know for sure is that the Running Man Kyle Shanahan will utilize most of his backs in a rotation and look to terrorize defenses with their explosive zone blocking scheme.
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