49ers would like to trade Elijah Mitchell (but probably won't have any luck)

Trading Elijah Mitchell makes sense except for this one glaring detail.
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25)
San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) / G Fiume/GettyImages

Elijah Mitchell popped up on a trade-candidate list, but there's a pretty big reason why the 49ers would have a tough time moving him.

There are plenty of signs pointing to running back Elijah Mitchell not being in the San Francisco 49ers' long-term plans.

Despite setting a franchise record for most rushing yards by a rookie with 963 back in 2021, the Niners have nevertheless stockpiled additional options to take his place, including two failed third-round NFL draftees in Trey Sermon and Tyrion Davis-Price before the high-profile trade that landed Christian McCaffrey.

Additionally, San Francisco developed backup rusher Jordan Mason into a reliable change-of-pace tailback while also using a fourth-round pick in this year's draft to grab Louisville's Isaac Guerendo.

Considering Mitchell's contract expires after 2024, there doesn't seem to be a good chance of him hanging around.

So, why not try getting something for Mitchell in return by dangling him on the trade block?

Well, it's not that simple.

Trading Elijah Mitchell wouldn't be easy for 49ers

It's easy for fans and many pundits to look at an excess commodity on a roster, even a bad player, and then say something along the likes of, "we should trade him."

But here's the kicker: Another team would need to want to trade for that player.

Giving up valuable assets, namely draft picks, isn't something teams typically do with reckless abandon. Especially when there are inevitably plenty of still-available names on the free-agent market who'd merely cost the expense of whatever contract they can command.

Nevertheless, Mitchell's name recently popped up on a Bleacher Report list of players the 49ers could potentially trade this year prior to the start of the regular season:

"Elijah Mitchell's spot on the depth chart could be under threat by fourth-round pick Isaac Guerendo.

Mitchell had a breakout season in 2021 where he almost hit the 1,000-yard mark, but he has not hit the 300-yard mark in either of the last two seasons.

Christian McCaffrey's arrival has a lot to do with the drop in production, and if Mitchell believes he can be a No. 1 running back in the NFL, it simply is not happening in San Francisco."

The article mentioned Mason, too, as a possible trade commodity. Between the two, Mason probably makes more sense, but that's another argument for another time.

Instead, here's the problem with trading Mitchell: He's overly injury-prone.

Back in 2021, when Mitchell set that franchise record, the then-rookie appeared in only 11 games, the remainder being cut short by injuries. A year later, multiple MCL injuries held him to just five games played. Then, in 2023, multiple injuries forced him to miss all but 11 games again.

Unless there's another coach or coordinator out there who's absolutely enamored with the oft-injured Mitchell, the Niners would have almost no luck trying to move him. Tack on the fact he's on an expiring contract, and few teams would even consider making an offer.

Sure, San Francisco could dangle Mitchell on the trade block while spreading stories about him "being in the best shape of his career," but those efforts would likely get nowhere.

At best, and this is awfully remote, a would-be Mitchell trade would command no more than a sixth- or seventh-round pick in return.

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