An injury to Jeff Wilson has paved the way for rookie running back Trey Sermon to have a big role with the 49ers in his rookie year.
It hasn’t taken long for the running back corps for the San Francisco 49ers to take a hit with Jeff Wilson out due to knee surgery. We haven’t even gotten close to the preseason games yet, and the depth chart will need a shakeup.
And that’s excellent news for the rookie, Trey Sermon.
The new 49ers running back obviously has his fans in the front office, given the team traded up for him in the third round in this year’s NFL Draft.
If that doesn’t sound like too much to you, keep in mind head coach Kyle Shanahan seems to have an impressive ability to take running backs off the free-agency or undrafted scrap pile and turn them into starters almost instantly.
With Raheem Mostert the No. 1 running back for the rotation, the battle for the No. 2 spot is now wide open. In a running back rotation like the Niners possess, that’s a very good position to be in.
Trey Sermon has an inside track for No. 2 49ers running back
Sermon doesn’t have a lot of challengers for the role. Wayne Gallman looks like a solid hand but lacks the upside Sermon possesses, JaMycal Hasty has talent but durability could be a concern and Elijah Mitchell is also talented but was taken after Sermon.
In addition, Sermon is more of a physical runner than those three running backs. He has the body to take 20 or more carries a game to wear defenses down if needed.
So for Sermon, it comes down to training camp and the preseason. If he puts forward a good performance to vindicate the faith shown in him, then Sermon could be the most prominent rookie for the Niners who isn’t offensive guard Aaron Banks.
What can the 49ers fans expect from Sermon?
Given the injury to Wilson, at a minimum, we can see him in the rotation, but that isn’t a hard prediction. More accurately, they should be seeing Sermon get some carries early.
As Sermon hasn’t shown to be much of a receiver in the college ranks (only 48 total receptions in 45 collegiate games with Oklahoma and Ohio State), he isn’t likely to be on the field on third downs except perhaps in short-yardage situations. As a result, his spot on the team is likely to be the first- and second-down running back who can either run the ball early and often or else be a decoy for the 49ers’ play-action scheme.
It’ll be too much to say Sermon is an instant starter, but look for him to have a big role in the Niners offense as the team looks to return to the Super Bowl in 2021.