49ers: 4 players who can be No. 1 option on offense in 2021

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers with Raheem Mostert #31 (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers with Raheem Mostert #31 (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (31) Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers figure to spread the ball around this season, and these four players could emerge as the No. 1 option on offense.

The San Francisco 49ers finished their 2020 campaign with the 21st ranked scoring offense in the league, largely due to the fact no other team endured more injuries than the Niners over the course of the year.

Three different starting quarterbacks, each one of the team’s top pass-catchers and even the bulk of running backs all found themselves in and out of the lineup at various points during the year, often due to being out with serious injuries.

Yet if head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad stays mostly healthy, there’s a good chance San Francisco’s offense will bounce back and potentially emerge as a top-10 unit despite NFL pundits thinking otherwise.

There are some clear-cut options for the No. 1 go-to offensive guy, of course. But Shanahan is prone to distributing the workload, and one might expect him to divvy up touches over the course of 2021.

That said, look for these four players to compete for the top offensive option this season.

No. 4: 49ers Running Back Raheem Mostert

The 49ers recently losing running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to a knee injury for four to six months is a setback, although it opens up the door for running back Trey Sermon to see an increased workload.

Whether or not Sermon starts a lot this season is irrelevant. “Starters” at running back aren’t necessarily the ones who wind up seeing the bulk of carries, and it’s possible Shanahan uses Sermon in a similar way as he did running back Tevin Coleman a year ago: a first-half option to test out defenses.

When those defenses are worn down, particularly in the second half, that’s when Shanahan traditionally fielded the team’s No. 1 running back, Raheem Mostert, in a significant role.

Granted, injuries limited Mostert to just eight games played last season. But in 2019, when the Niners boasted an elite-level offense, Mostert 952 all-purpose yards, which ranked third best on the team, and his 10 touchdowns that year led all of San Francisco’s offensive players.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see Shanahan try getting back into this kind of game-planning again, thereby putting Mostert back into a position where he’ll be a top contributor.