49ers NFL Draft grades: Day 3 reinforcements net good results

Talanoa Hufanga #15 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Talanoa Hufanga #15 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns running back Elijah Mitchell (15) Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports /

Round 6, Pick No. 194 Overall: 49ers selection of RB Elijah Mitchell

Elijah Mitchell was one player I looked closely at as a late-round add for the Niners, particularly with their current crop of runners before the draft — Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Austin Walter — only signed through 2021.

Mostert, Wilson and Hasty all suffered serious injuries last season, too, so the need to infuse some more talent was readily on the table.

San Francisco added Ohio State running back Trey Sermon in Round 3, and more attention will focus on him. But Mitchell might actually be the more electrifying runner out of the two rookies.

For starters, Mitchell is much faster, having put together a Mostert-like 4.38 40-yard time at his pro day. When combined with his 5-foot-10, 201-pound frame, it’s understandable why he was such a tough tackle at the collegiate level even though his competition wasn’t exactly top notch.

That said, Mitchell was notably productive as both a rushing and receiving threat:

Elijah Mitchell Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2017 Louisiana Sun Belt FR RB 5 42 257 6.1 4 3 25 8.3 1 45 282 6.3 5
*2018 Louisiana Sun Belt SO RB 13 146 985 6.7 13 20 349 17.5 3 166 1334 8.0 16
*2019 Louisiana Sun Belt JR RB 14 198 1147 5.8 16 10 70 7.0 1 208 1217 5.9 17
*2020 Louisiana Sun Belt SR RB 10 141 878 6.2 8 16 153 9.6 0 157 1031 6.6 8
Career Louisiana 527 3267 6.2 41 49 597 12.2 5 576 3864 6.7 46

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 5/3/2021.

The combination of speed and versatility is exciting, although Mitchell’s vision and decisiveness are elements that will need some further development.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense rotates its running backs regularly, meaning Mitchell could be in line for carries his rookie season. Especially if Hasty and/or Walter are pushed off the roster. And while there wasn’t a pressing need to add Mitchell, and many draft pundits pegged him as a seventh-round target or even a priority undrafted free agent, thereby knocking the 49ers’ value down a bit here, the upsides still make for a quality late-round addition.

Louisiana-Lafayette. ELIJAH MITCHELL. B-. . RB

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