The 49ers’ surprising move in Round 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft suggests they don’t have much confidence in second-year running back Trey Sermon.
There’s no getting around that.
After a relatively disappointing rookie season in 2021, the former third-round draft pick out of Ohio State was at least hoping for some serious improvement and had the chance to cement a greater role in the wake of veteran tailback Raheem Mostert leaving for the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
And while it seemed to be a long shot for Sermon to usurp fellow 2021 rookie running back, Elijah Mitchell, on the Niners depth chart. At least the road to more touches was open.
But that whole context was completely shaken up with San Francisco grabbing LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price with its first of two third-round picks in the 2022 draft. While that move could easily be viewed as quite the reach on the 49ers’ part, it doesn’t change the fact Davis-Price is here to stay.
He’ll also directly threaten not only Sermon’s chances for more carries this season, but the new rookie could potentially even push Sermon off the roster altogether.
Trey Sermon was disappointing for 49ers in 2021
Not long after the Niners selected him in Round 3 of the 2021 draft, Niner Noise broke down how Sermon’s selection was arguably the most questionable, garnering some heat from the fanbase because of it.
Well, that prediction was notably correct. Sermon’s rookie year was anything but impressive.
In total, Sermon managed a mere 41 rushes for 167 yards and a touchdown, only getting to start two games due to injuries to players like Mitchell and Mostert and then finding himself a healthy scratch at times later in the season.
Granted, Mitchell’s ascent helped alleviate the perceived whiff on Sermon in year one, and there’s always the hope the latter would finally latch on in what’s been a running back-by-committee approach for head coach Kyle Shanahan anyway.
But Davis-Price changes all of that.
Will 49ers keep Trey Sermon on 53-man roster in 2022?
As soon as Davis-Price is signed, San Francisco will have five halfbacks on its 90-man offseason roster: the rookie, Mitchell, Sermon, Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty.
Hasty and Wilson, too, are in danger of losing out on a roster spot because of Davis-Price, so we can’t automatically assume Sermon is in immediate jeopardy of failing to make the 49ers roster out of training camp.
We can, however, suggest the road will be a lot tougher for Sermon than it was before. And with Davis-Price being a day-two draft pick, the Niners may be looking to give the latter far more looks during offseason programs and training camp.
On the positive side of things, Sermon was a Round 3 pick, too, and San Francisco might not be willing to wholly give up on him yet.
However, using such a high pick on yet another running back doesn’t signal a full endorsement of Sermon’s role under Shanahan this upcoming season, meaning the former Ohio State tailback has to enter the offseason squarely on the bubble.