49ers roster: Grading each position halfway through scuffling 2021 season

D.J. Jones #93 and Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
D.J. Jones #93 and Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
8 of 9
Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears
San Francisco 49ers running back Eli Mitchell (25) runs past Chicago Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith (58) Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Running Backs

The Niners’ situation at running back is partially equal to what’s going on at cornerback.

Like the reliance upon Jason Verrett, San Francisco pinned its hopes on veteran tailback Raheem Mostert being healthy for all of 2021, hoping the two rookies who were drafted, Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell, would merely play supplementary roles.

Mostert, like Verrett, was lost after Week 1, though, and won’t be back this year. And like Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir, the 49ers aren’t playing Sermon much at all. Outside of one of his two starts, where he rushed for an impressive 89 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, Sermon has been relegated to the back end of the depth chart and was even a healthy scratch behind Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty and Jeff Wilson Jr. in Week 9 against the Cardinals.

So much for that third-round draft investment.

Most of this has been accounted for, however, by the sudden emergence of Mitchell, whose 469 rush yards currently rank 17th among all ball-carriers this season despite missing two games with an injury. Additionally, Mitchell’s 5.3 yards-per-carry average ranks ninth best through nine weeks, and he even tied a franchise record for rookies with three 100-yard rushing games thus far.

All that helps make up for what’s turning into a whiff on Sermon, and Mitchell is clearly the No. 1 option on the Niners depth chart.

If only Kyle Shanahan would stay consistent in featuring Mitchell and San Francisco’s rushing attack on a regular basis.

Grade: B