2. 49ers Running Back Elijah Mitchell
One of the more surprising successes of this season, 23 year-old running back Elijah Mitchell is off to an incredible start. In his first game, he rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown. After a solid Week 1 performance earned him a Week 2 start, Mitchell injured his shoulder and was sidelined for two games. He quickly bounced back in Week 5, though, earning his starting spot back and now has two touchdowns and 296 yards through four games.
The rookie continues to build off of his success as the weeks wear on. Amid last Sunday’s late-night downpour, Mitchell carried the team to an opening drive touchdown and showed off his grit throughout the early portion of the game. For some odd reason, Shanahan opted to move away from Mitchell and the run game, but that shouldn’t overshadow the young back’s playmaking ability
Mitchell has clearly outplayed fellow rookie back Trey Sermon despite being a much later pick. If Shanahan starts falling into old (and more successful) habits, the two rookies could move towards a more tandem approach to the run game. Far from limiting Mitchell’s potential, getting Sermon more involved would allow the lead runner to stay fresh and ready to carry the football for big gains.
Whatever the coaching staff throws his way, Mitchell has shown he can take it and make it into something productive. The 49ers found their diamond in the rough with him.