49ers roster: Grading each position after first 4 weeks of 2021
By Peter Panacy
49ers Running Backs: C-
Such a provocative group.
Like the cornerback crop, the Niners have dealt with plenty of injury attrition at running back, highlighted by losing No. 1 tailback Raheem Mostert to a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. Following his exit, San Francisco also lost rushers Elijah Mitchell (shoulder), Trey Sermon (concussion) and JaMycal Hasty (ankle) to injuries at various lengths, too, putting all kinds of pressure on a position that was anticipated to be more than deep enough to begin the regular season.
Sermon, the third-round rookie who was inactive in Week 1 before being forced to serve as the bell-cow back the last two weeks, has had his ups and downs, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry in Week 3 before impressing a bit more with a 4.7-yard average in Week 4 with 89 rush yards.
Mitchell, too, had a 100-yard debut in Week 1. Yet the injuries create problems here the 49ers seemingly haven’t been able to solve.
Overall, the 3.9-yard average on the ground is troubling. Especially considering how vital the rushing attack is in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. While some blame can be attributed to the offensive line, it’s also the running backs’ collective responsibility to make the best out of whatever situation is presented.
At least fullback Kyle Juszczyk is getting a lot of touches. He’s a mismatch, and it’s about time the Niners utilized him as much as possible in that manner.