49ers NFL Draft 2021: Predicting each rookie’s role, spot on depth chart

Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State Bison (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Quarterback Trey Lance #5 of the North Dakota State Bison (Photo by Sam Wasson/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 /

No. 8: 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell

Of all the Niners’ 2021 draft additions, Elijah Mitchell has the potential to be the most electrifying and explosive right out of the gate.

Kyle Shanahan has never shied away from beefing up his running back room, and despite already having Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and now Trey Sermon, Mitchell could easily slot himself into a situational or rotational role early on.

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Granted, the level of competition Mitchell faced at Louisiana-Lafayette within the Sun Belt Conference wasn’t top-notch. But Mitchell’s speed — he ran a 4.38 40-yard time at his pro day — and dual-threat abilities as both a rusher and pass-catcher should serve him well, provided he can make use of that outside-zone threat to get into space.

Mitchell’s 5-foot-10, 201-pound frame is notably elusive, too, suggesting he could possibly end up being a long-term replacement for Mostert, who not only just turned 29 years old this offseason but also enters a contract year.

It won’t start off that way, of course, as Shanahan has often favored his veterans at the position over new-faced rookies. But Mitchell could work his way into the equation by being a steady riser during training camp, impressing Shanahan and fellow coaches with his uncoachable skill set.

That’ll be his ultimate battle first, just landing on San Francisco’s 53-man roster right out of the gate.

Projected Role, Spot on 49ers Depth Chart: RB4

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