49ers vs. Vikings preseason: Niners who desperately need a bounce-back game

Alfred Morris #46 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Alfred Morris #46 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Hannah Foslien/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 /

49ers bounce-back player No. 4: Running back Trey Sermon

Unlike Justin Skule, running back Trey Sermon isn’t anywhere near in danger of missing out on a roster spot. And by all accounts, head coach Kyle Shanahan is pleased with the difference he’s seen from the 49ers’ third-round NFL Draft pick from a year ago.

Sermon’s preseason Week 1 efforts are an example where stats don’t tell the whole story. Case in point, he managed just 11 yards on six carries, which won’t suggest a good evening by any measure but have to be lined up against some poor lead-blocking in front of him that prevented some notable gains.

What is at stake, though, is Sermon’s positioning on the depth chart.

With presumed No. 1 running back Elijah Mitchell not expected to play against Minnesota, Shanahan will probably turn to the reserves like Sermon, Tyrion Davis-Price, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Jordan Mason a lot during the game, and there’s plenty of fluidity with regards to who primarily supports Mitchell in 2022.

Davis-Price, the Niners’ third-round pick this year, saw 10 rushes in contrast to Sermon’s six, meaning either Shanahan wants to give his rookie more exposure and experience or is tailoring him to serve a bigger role than Sermon.

Either way, even if the blocking isn’t particularly great, Sermon will want to have one or two of those impressive carries to improve his depth-chart stock value.