49ers must be growing wary of Elijah Mitchell's injury reputation

San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25)
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

In his third year, 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell continues to miss chunks of time because of injuries, which has to be frustrating for both player and team.

At least for the foreseeable future, San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell is going to claim a commendable piece of franchise history.

After all, during his rookie 2021 season, the former Louisiana Rajin' Cajun rushed for 963 yards, which set a team record for a first-year pro. And the impressive part of that was Mitchell did so over just 11 games played.

One could only wonder what those numbers would have been like if he was fully healthy for a full 17-game season.

Therein is the problem, though. Mitchell is, like it or not, an injury-prone player.

The following year, after vowing to be healthier, Mitchell ended up suffering two separate MCL injuries at different points of the year that resulted in him appearing in just five regular-season games. And those injuries certainly influenced the Niners' decision to make the blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers for All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

Unfortunately, now with Mitchell relegated to backup duty, it doesn't appear as if the injury problems have subsided.

Elijah Mitchell already on wrong end of 49ers injury trend in 2023

Mitchell saw touches in Week 1 before almost being forgotten by head coach Kyle Shanahan in Week 2 in favor of McCaffrey.

But after 11 rush attempts and three receptions in Week 3, Mitchell suffered another knee injury in practice that subsequently knocked him out of San Francisco's Week 4 game against the Arizona Cardinals, his first injury-related absence of the year.

Unfortunately, that same injury is going to keep Mitchell out of the 49ers' high-profile matchup in Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys, too, as Mitchell was declared out by Shanahan on Friday.

Two games missed of five this season so far, which is putting more pressure on the Niners to play McCaffrey additional snaps, risking another injury, or hoping that depth rushers like Jordan Mason and Tyrion Davis-Price can pick up the slack.

Either way, it has to be frustrating for the former sixth-round NFL Draft pick who looked as if he'd be a complete steal but hasn't quite been able to shake the injury reputation ever since.

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