49ers depth chart: 3 crucial decisions Kyle Shanahan must make for Week 7

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Trey Sermon (28) Mandatory Credit: Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2: Will 49ers neglect Trey Sermon because of Elijah Mitchell?

It’s certainly OK to suggest rookie running back Elijah Mitchell has outperformed fellow rookie runner Trey Sermon through six weeks of action despite the former dealing with a shoulder injury that limited him to three games played.

The oddity, however, is the fact Kyle Shanahan called for only run play from Sermon in Week 5 against an Arizona Cardinals defense that was allowing 5.4 yards per carry, 31st in the league, entering that particular contest. And while Mitchell only got nine carries in that game anyway, it was nevertheless troubling to see Sermon scantly used after having a breakout 89-yard game the previous week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense has been its most effective when a solid ground game has been established, and this has often featured dual running backs. In 2019, the top-performing tandem was Raheem Mostert, who’s now on injured reserve with a knee injury, and now-New York Jets running back Tevin Coleman.

Simply stated, there should be enough carries to go around and split the difference between Sermon and Mitchell.

Especially against a Colts defense that’s allowing 5.9 yards per play this season.