49ers depth chart: 5 players who could shockingly start in 2023

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Jordan Mason, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers running back Jordan Mason (24) / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1: 49ers RB Jordan Mason

OK, wait. What?

Yes, I know what you're thinking. San Francisco has an All-Pro at running back in Christian McCaffrey. Why would head coach Kyle Shanahan start a former undrafted free agent, Jordan Mason, over someone like McCaffrey?

While not as extreme, Shanahan has done something similar before.

Back in 2019, the 49ers' leading rusher was Raheem Mostert. No surprises there, except for the fact he didn't actually start games. No, Shanahan and the Niners let another running back, Tevin Coleman, be the starter.

In that role, Coleman tested out opposing defenses and wore them down, while Mostert capitalized after halftime.

That might be the kind of play Shanahan deploys in 2023, which would point to Mason getting the nod over the oft-injured Elijah Mitchell to kick off games, while McCaffrey would still get the lion's share of carries.

Perhaps we're playing with a technicality here, but it's worth pointing out that Shanahan's offense doesn't always favor "the starter" at running back.

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