49ers 5 biggest needs after first wave of NFL free agency

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Raheem Mostert, 49ers roster
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers could use long-term running back options

It doesn’t necessarily seem like a need right now. But San Francisco would be wise to explore its choices at running back, namely to stretch into 2021.

The 49ers are bidding farewell to two veteran runners this offseason, Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman, leaving Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Austin Walter to round out the halfback depth chart.

Two problems with this.

First, none of those names are signed into 2022, although one has to figure both Hasty and Walter could be retained on the cheap if need be. Second, however, all three outside of Walter suffered serious injuries last year. Mostert has developed something of an unfortunate injury reputation, and it’s probably best not to assume he’s a bell-cow tailback. Hasty tore his ACL, while Wilson missed time with a high-ankle sprain.

Kyle Shanahan hasn’t been one to spend high draft capital on a running back. But he isn’t averse to spending money on the position, Coleman and McKinnon being two prime examples.

Yet the Niners may want to think strongly about putting a long-term emphasis on this position, even if it means grabbing someone who can compete right away for a spot on the depth chart with a long-term prognosis of assuming an RB1 role as soon as 2022.