It appears we may have a little more clarity into the 49ers’ backfield.
This past offseason the 49ers added 32 running backs to their roster. If you play in any type of fantasy football the backfield was about as muddy as it could get.
When training camp started Jerick McKinnon had a slight setback in his surgically repaired knee with a slight flare-up. However, a week later he seemed ready for camp and the 49ers took McKinnon off the PUP list. Now a few days later McKinnon has been shut down for a couple of weeks due to a second setback and has been rumored to go on IR at the beginning of the season.
With Raheem Mostert likely to get mostly special teams work with maybe a carry here and there; the backfield seems to be Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida as your one-two punch.
Coleman has always been a four-plus in his yards-per-carry and Breida when healthy ran a very impressive 5.3 yards-per-carry last season. But that was the issue, when healthy. Multiple times last season Breida looked like he tore his ACL, broke his ankle, or died on the field only to come back the next series or maybe the very next week. If Breida is playing the complementary role in the backfield, if he is playing the Tevin Coleman role, to starter Tevin Coleman, maybe he stays healthy this season. Then Shanahan has two healthy backs that will gain at least four yards-per-carry on the back with a ceiling of potentially five yards.
Then there is the fact both running backs can receive out of the backfield as well. Today’s NFL is going away from the bruiser ground‘em and pound‘em style running back because it gives away what the offense is trying going to do. As good as Adrian Peterson is running the football he does not catch it coming out of the backfield, linebackers do not have to defend that aspect of the game. But if you have running backs like Coleman and Breida that can run up the middle, plus catch the ball, it masks the offense and keeps the defense guessing.
I hate to see McKinnon having setbacks and not being able to get out onto the field and show everyone what he can do. But the important thing is for him to heal up and come back 100% so he can further career. Plus, if someone is destined to have a setback coming from an ACL injury in 2019, better McKinnon and not Jimmy Garoppolo.
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