No. 4: Backup Running Back
Players on Roster: Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida, Joe Williams, Jeremy McNichols, Raheem Mostert
Jerick McKinnon will be the 49ers’ No. 1 running back in 2018. After that, it’s anyone’s educated guess.
It’s an important training camp battle, as head coach Kyle Shanahan prefers the dual-back approach — one he used to great effect with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons between Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman.
The favorite appears to be second-year tailback Matt Breida, who accumulated 645 all-purpose yards last season. But he’ll be pushed by fellow second-year pro Joe Williams, who was redshirted his rookie season after a disappointing training camp and preseason.
“I think his body looks a lot better than it did last year,” Shanahan said of Williams during minicamp, via David Bonilla of 49ers Webzone. “He’s put on a lot of muscle mass just with how he’s worked and has taken advantage of the year of not playing. I think he has just a different mindset, understands a little bit more of the standard of the NFL, and the difference.”
San Francisco’s fourth-round draft pick from a year ago will have to outperform Breida, though. And if Williams is unable to do that in training camp, he’ll have to beat out special teams ace Raheem Mostert.
Not an easy task either way.