49ers roster: 5 sleepers to watch as breakout stars in 2021

Jeff Wilson #30 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Jeff Wilson #30 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (30) Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Sleeper No. 1: Running Back Jeff Wilson Jr.

Of all the potential Niners breakout sleepers for 2021, few will have as good an opportunity to make a splash impact more than running back Jeff Wilson Jr.

Wilson was already given this chance last season when San Francisco was dealing with a revolving door of injured running backs, which included fellow runners Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon all missing a significant amount of time.

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Now, Coleman and McKinnon are off the 49ers roster, leaving Mostert, Wilson, JaMycal Hasty and Austin Walter as the only running backs rostered right now.

Yet Mostert and Wilson are the only ones with significant field time under their respective belts, and fans won’t soon forget Wilson’s two 100-plus yard games from last season — Week 7 against the New England Patriots where he also added three touchdowns, and also Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals — which were impressive enough considering he only started three games over the year.

Mostert’s injury history and Kyle Shanahan’s tendency to use a running back rotation likely point to Wilson seeing quite the uptick in use over the course of 2021. While Wilson may only be a first-half running back, much like how Coleman was used in 2019 and parts of 2020, the increased field time only serves to benefit Wilson over the long run.

Especially with him hitting a contract year anyway.

If Wilson hits on this, he could be yet another one of those hidden-gem finds Shanahan has developed at the position.

Next. 10 high-profile 49ers draft picks who never panned out. dark