Second-year running back Matt Breida has experienced a breakout season. Here’s why the San Francisco 49ers should shut him down for the rest of 2018.
The team hasn’t played well at all, but two players have. The first is second-year tight end George Kittle, who has taken the league by storm. He currently ranks as the top tight end in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
The second is another second-year player, running back Matt Breida, who finally had the chance to possess the role as the featured back in Kyle Shanahan’s offense after McKinnon tore his ACL shortly before the 2018 season began.
Breida is currently leading the league in yards per carry and looks like a top-10 running back when he has the ball in his hands.
And what’s even more impressive is that he’s been doing it injured. Breida’s 2018 injury journey began in the first preseason game of the year, where he suffered an injury to his shoulder.
Fast forward to Week 3 against Kansas City, and Breida suffered a knee injury that looked serious. He came back in the second half and broke off some long runs to keep the 49ers in the game.
This knee injury made Breida a game-time decision for the team’s next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, and of course Breida made a last-minute push to play. He suffered some more knee injury scares in Week 4, but played through them.
In Week 5 against Arizona, Breida was tackled awkwardly in the first quarter and had to exit the game with a mid- to high-ankle sprain. This was a new injury for Breida, as his knee and shoulder had been the only problems before. This time, the tough Matt Breida couldn’t push to return to the game, but he did in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers, which even Kyle Shanahan himself did not expect.
Playing at Green Bay on a sprained ankle, Breida played well and even scored a touchdown. He makes running around defenders look easy and looks fully healthy.
However, in the next week against the Los Angeles Rams, Breida aggravated his ankle injury on his first carry of the game and so he got it re-taped. He toughed it out and returned to the game, but immediately lost a fumble to Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
He doesn’t play a single snap in the second half.
Look, Matt, we get it. You’re a warrior — you’re Iron Man — you’re probably the toughest player in the NFL. And most importantly, you want to help your team. But if you keep on pushing to play through all these injuries, your body is going to be completely and utterly destroyed by the end of the year.
This season is essentially over. This team has no chance to win a championship with all the injuries suffered and has dug itself into a hole with a 1-6 start. All we can do is look forward to next year — a fresh start.
And the team needs Breida to be fully healthy for 2019.
Continuing to play the rest of the season would put Breida at risk of suffering a major injury that could hold him out for a long time. It is simply not worth the risk.
Plus, the 49ers still have a good running back in Raheem Mostert, who has averaged 6.3 yards per carry so far this season. The running game would not completely falter with Breida out.
Breida is a young running back with enough potential to become a star. But he’s majorly banged up and he should not be playing. Doing so could very likely cost him — and his team — in the future.