No. 4: Running Back Jeff Wilson
Kyle Shanahan’s offense is known for turning unheard-of running backs into notable contributors, and the 49ers are experiencing multiple cases in 2018.
Starting running back Matt Breida was, earlier this season, leading the NFL in both rushing yards and average yards per carry. Injuries have cut into those totals a bit this season, and a previous ankle injury held Breida to just five carries for six yards in Seattle.
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Breida’s setback opened up the door for undrafted rookie tailback Jeff Wilson, recently promoted from the practice squad, to assume a prominent role.
Wilson had a questionable fumble in Week 13, and replay review didn’t have enough evidence to overturn the turnover.
That doesn’t tell the entire story, however, as Wilson ended up leading all 49ers rushers with 61 yards on 15 carries, getting a lot of the short-yardage duties and handling primary responsibilities when Breida’s injury forced him to a secondary role.
Better yet, Wilson also added 73 yards on eight grabs through the air, proving he can be a solid pass-catching option for Shanahan.
The 49ers already know what they have in Breida, and he’ll be a vital piece of the team’s offensive plans in 2019. There’s little reason to give him prominent ball-carrying duties over the rest of the season, meaning Wilson won’t be held back from being a major contributor when the Broncos come to town on Dec. 9.
The Niners and Broncos kick off that day at 4:05 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
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