49ers roster: 4 players who must dramatically improve in 2022 to avoid going bust

Trey Sermon #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Trey Sermon #28 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Trey Sermon (28) Mandatory Credit: Chris Coduto-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers Running Back Trey Sermon

Those of us who questioned San Francisco drafting former Ohio State running back Trey Sermon in Round 3 of the NFL Draft last year might be justified now.

Sermon was a polarizing selection, yes, especially with the 49ers chock full of other rushing options, although injuries over the year to Raheem Mostert, Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr. and even JaMycal Hasty opened up the door for Sermon to make something of an impact.

Early on, though, it was pretty evident Sermon was fully in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s proverbial doghouse, only getting two starts in Weeks 3 and 4 because of those injuries and then seeing only a combined 11 rushes again for the rest of the regular season, frequently relegated to the inactive list.

True, Sermon suffered an ankle sprain on a special teams play that limited his availability. But he remained a clear loser from the Niners’ 2021 draft class in light of Mitchell’s emergence.

Heading into 2022, Sermon does stand a slightly better chance after finishing his rookie season with 167 rush yards, a touchdown and averaging 4.1 yards per carry over nine games played. Mostert, a pending free agent, is likely gone. Wilson is a restricted free agent, and it might be time for San Francisco to find an upgrade over Hasty.

Still, the odds seem to favor Sermon being nothing close to a fully featured piece of Shanahan’s offense unless the tailback makes some serious improvement this offseason.