The San Francisco 49ers made some moves regarding the running back situation during the 2020 NFL Draft. Niner Noise breaks down what the depth chart may be now.
The hallmark of a successful offense under San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has always been a strong zone-running game. Last year, the Niners were the best rushing team in the NFL, largely indicative of the strength of the team. The 49ers had a potent rushing attack, one that punished teams up until the Super Bowl.
Another hallmark of the Shanahan offense is the ability to make a superstar out of any player. Pro Football Focus did an analysis of that very circumstance, lauding San Francisco for using a committee approach that did lethal damage. Shanahan looks for certain traits in backs, typically one-cut players with breakaway speed, and he maximizes their abilities. He did it for running back Matt Breida, he did it for running back Raheem Mostert, he did with running back Alfred Morris in Washington, and he’ll do it again.
With that in mind, the 49ers running back room has been very volatile. When a player falls off or gets injured, Shanahan always has a replacement who plays exceptionally well. It happened when Breida suffered an ankle injury in 2019, allowing Mostert to get some run time.
It could happen this year.
That volatility means that the running back room is pretty open. An extra spot was even opened up by the in-draft trade of Breida to the Dolphins for a fifth-round pick. That leaves a lot of spots available, and that means a lot of competition.
Let’s go through the locks, bubble candidates and longshots at the running back room.