Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert
The most likely choice the 49ers will make will be the promotion of Jeff Wilson from the practice squad. Wilson knows the playbook and practices with the team, so there isn’t much need for adjustment.
Wilson played very well in the preseason, though not well enough to get a roster spot on any NFL team. A lucky break for the 49ers, who now can keep an NFL-caliber back on their practice squad.
In breaking down Wilson, Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy wrote “when one figures how good he looked on short, tough carries, it’s possible he’s able to carve out a niche as a short-yardage back.”
This is how the 49ers ought to attack this opportunity. Rather than take the same type of back as they currently have and run a retread, they should try to get diversity in their backfield. A tough-nosed, short-yardage back provides a much-needed contrast to the breakaway speed of Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida.
That being said, if the 49ers do call up Wilson, he wouldn’t simply slot into Coleman’s carries. That role wold go to Mostert.
Kyle Shanahan said the team believes in Mostert and that he has an opportunity. Against the Buccaneers, Mostert was the best running back for the 49ers. Pro Football Focus’ Jeff Deeney reported Mostert had 38 of his 40 rushing yards after contact:
That’s exceptional for any running back, especially on a day when everyone on the offense, save tight end George Kittle, seemed to struggle.
If this is the path the 49ers take, they will be using the same running back group as last year. The only hope is health and growth will account for better results.