49ers roster: 4 best things that surprised us most in 2021

Eli Mitchell #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Eli Mitchell #25 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Eli Mitchell (25) Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: Elijah Mitchell has turned into a 49ers stud

Not much is usually expected out of sixth-round NFL Draft picks, certainly not during their rookie seasons.

And that was certainly the case for running back Elijah Mitchell, taken in Round 6 and someone who found himself buried deep on a training camp depth chart for the Niners that included Raheem Mostert, Trey Sermon, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Wayne Gallman.

But Gallman didn’t make the 53-man cut, Mostert suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, and Sermon has been relegated to the ranks of the “let’s hope he pans out in 2022” crowd.

Instead, it’s been the Mitchell show on the ground for almost all of 2021.

Despite missing six games with various injuries, Mitchell nevertheless set two new franchise records for rookies:

  • Five 100-yard rushing games in a rookie season
  • Most rushing yards (878) for a Niners running back in a rookie season

Mitchell’s strength and speed have made him an offensive X-factor, averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per attempt and even doubling as a receiving threat, too, with 137 yards through the air.

As long as he stays healthy, Mitchell could remain that key X-factor for San Francisco for a long, long time.

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