49ers roster: 5 players who must step up with Deebo Samuel out

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Jeff Wilson, SF 49ers, Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson (30) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 4: 49ers Running Back Jeff Wilson Jr.

Rookie Elijah Mitchell is the unquestioned No. 1 running back on San Francisco’s roster, and Week 12 marked the fourth time he’s rushed for over 100 yards, setting a new franchise record for first-year players.

But Mitchell won’t be able to account for Samuel’s rushing and receiving prowess alone, as the first-year pro is already shouldering a heavy workload when healthy.

Instead, the 49ers are going to have to rely on some running back depth, particularly with fellow runners JaMycal Hasty and Trey Sermon banged up with ankle injuries.

The player they should turn to is fellow rusher Jeff Wilson Jr.

Wilson, who only recently made his return from an offseason meniscus tear, has a Samuel-like pedigree, only in the opposite standing: a running back with underrated receiving abilities. At 6-foot-0 and 194 pounds, Wilson has enjoyed dual-threat success in the past, particularly in 2020 when he had two 100-plus rushing-yard games out of three starts that year, also registering 13 receptions for 133 yards and three receiving touchdowns that year.

The Niners may be able to use Wilson in a Samuel-like deployment, lining him up as a receiver or in the backfield, epitomizing the positionless offense head coach Kyle Shanahan has tried to implement.