The 49ers again have a crowded running back depth chart entering 2020, which prompts predictions for how this unit pans out.
The San Francisco 49ers are a run-first team in a pass-happy league, and head coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t shy away from using a running back-by-committee approach, often using the hot hand when that particular player is playing at his best.
Case in point last year, depth running back and special teams ace Raheem Mostert ascended from the proverbial “ranks of nowhere” to the featured back role, essentially demoting now-Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida on the depth chart and off the Niners roster altogether by the 2020 NFL Draft.
Breida’s trade should have cleared up what was already a crowded running back room entering this season. But when factoring in San Francisco is planning on getting fellow tailback Jerick McKinnon back from a two-year stint on injured reserve, stemming from a 2018 ACL tear and subsequent complications, the running back depth chart remains as crowded as it was before.
And that doesn’t even include two undrafted free-agent additions this offseason, Washington’s Salvon Ahmed and Baylor’s JaMycal Hasty.
Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner have a long history of developing otherwise unheralded running backs, and Breida was a prime example. So is Mostert. But there are still plenty of unanswered questions how this unit will form up by Week 1. A year ago, Shanahan reiterated each runner would determine his own role heading into the regular season, and one might expect little to change in 2020.
But that was before another wrinkle was added to the mix, Mostert requesting a trade, per his agent:
How this affects the depth chart is anyone’s guess, and Mostert’s reported request is just that for right now.
So, why not make some pre-training camp predictions?