49ers NFL Draft: Grading rookie class halfway through 2021

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Eli Mitchell (25) Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Round 6 Pick: Running Back Elijah Mitchell

The 49ers have every right to be concerned about how they’ve handled Trey Sermon up to this point. But offsetting those worries is the fact Elijah Mitchell has emerged as a legitimate stud on the ground this season.

Yes, Mitchell missed two games with a shoulder injury, which opened up the door for Sermon to see some playing time. Yet Kyle Shanahan’s offense is so much better when there’s a legitimate speed threat on the ground, and Mitchell has used that to great extent this season already.

Case in point, the sixth-round rookie is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 89 rushes this season, and he already has three 100-yard rushing games under his belt, tying a franchise record and likely setting a new one, provided he winds up putting up another similar effort in the second half of 2021.

Related Story: Elijah Mitchell is the hero the 49ers need

If anything, the only times where Mitchell has had a “down” game has been when Shanahan has gotten away from the ground attack, such as in both contests against the Cardinals where it was either Trey Lance’s runs in Week 5 or a pass-heavy attack from Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 9.

Still, Mitchell has been more than impressive. And, without question, he’s been the Niners’ most impactful rookie over the course of 2021 so far.

Not sure if that’s what you want out of a sixth-round pick, but it is what it is.

Grade: A+

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