No. 2: Matt Breida
After Matt Breida’s breakout season, it’s a contentious issue as to whether he will suit up at the No. 1 or No. 2 spot upon the return of Jerick McKinnon. Breida was thrust into the starting role after McKinnon tore his ACL during preseason training.
Breida quickly took advantage of the promotion, leading the NFL in rushing at the completion of Week 2 and blowing away his numbers from his rookie year. Breida had 153 carries for 814 rushing yards, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. If not for missing several games due to injury, it’s likely he would have passed 1,000 yards rushing for the season.
He also saw a drastic improvement in pass-catch ability, something which he lacked in year one. Breida came away with 27 receptions for 261 yards, averaging 9.7 yards per receptions and two touchdowns. 2018 saw him increase his catch percentage to 87.1 percent, up from his rookie year of 58.3 percent.
Breida was also clocked as the fastest ball carrier for 2018, recording a run of 22.09 MPH in Week 12’s match up with the Buccaneers.
This season saw Breida round out as a true all-round running back, capable of both explosive and dynamic runs as well as a proficient receiver. All the qualities Shanahan was looking for when the 49ers signed McKinnon.