49ers roster: Why Trey Sermon takes over as starting running back in 2021

Trey Sermon , San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Sermon , San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The rookie Trey Sermon is threatening to take over as the 49ers starter in 2021 after injuries have started felling his teammates at the position.

Injuries are unfortunately an all too common occurrence for the San Francisco 49ers, and that’s certainly reared its head early with a disjointed running back corps.

Presumptive starter Raheem Mostert hasn’t been able to get onto the practice field yet, while receiving back Jeff Wilson will be out for several months.

But with crisis comes opportunity, and it’s been a breath of fresh air to see rookie Trey Sermon perform well in OTAs and have one eye on taking over the mantle as the Niners starting running back right out of the gate.

Starting can be a bit of a misnomer for San Francisco’s running backs, given head coach Kyle Shanahan loves to use multiple backs in varying arrays of combinations, but it’s certainly a chance for Sermon to at least firmly put himself into the rotation.

Studying the 49ers scheme ahead of time has paid off for Sermon, who’s been able to adapt seamlessly thus far into practices. By the end of the OTAs, he was taking the majority of snaps with the starters.

At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Sermon is much more suited to being the running back who takes the majority of the snaps to wear down the defense. Mostert, who’s 5-foot-10 and 197 pounds, is much better suited to coming in when defenses have been worn down to blow by the defenses.

Add in that the 49ers want to be precautionary with Mostert, given his durability issues, and the right situation is there for Sermon to take advantage and ingrain himself into the rotation from Week 1.

Having put his foot in the door with a strong showing at the OTAs, it’s now on Sermon to take advantage of this in both training camp and the preseason games. With the regular season now longer than ever and the preseason games being cut from four games to three, Sermon should secure a spot if he can impress there.

This doesn’t mean Sermon will take 20 or more carries a game. The Niners love to mix and match their running back plans depending on the teams they face, but it does allow him to put a foot in the door and go from there.

Sermon hasn’t put a foot wrong, and that’s why he looks set to take over at the running back position sooner rather than later.

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