49ers roster 2023: Jordan Mason overhyped, or is he the real deal?

Jordan Mason did enough his rookie year to suggest he could be a key part of the 49ers' running back rotation in 2023.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jordan Mason (24)
San Francisco 49ers running back Jordan Mason (24) / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Fans are awfully bullish on second-year pro Jordan Mason, who could be the 49ers' No. 2 running back behind Christian McCaffrey this season.

Every so often, a hidden gem of a player emerges from the depths of the undrafted ranks and winds up impressing to the point of becoming a superstar.

We're not sure if that's what'll happen to San Francisco 49ers second-year running back Jordan Mason.

However, Mason is one of those who already generated enough buzz from his inaugural preseason through his rookie year, and that momentum might carry him into a key role for head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense in 2023.

Mason already rocked the boat his rookie season by convincing the Niners it was best to part ways with one of their third-round NFL Draft picks, Trey Sermon, after just one lackluster season. With Mason hanging around and Sermon jettisoned, the former Georgia Tech tailback put together a solid rookie year in support of San Francisco's 2022 rushing trio of now-Miami Dolphins rusher Jeff Wilson Jr., Elijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey.

Appearing in 16 games, Mason rushed 43 times for 258 yards with a touchdown and averaged 6 yards per attempt.

Is there more awaiting him in 2023, though? Or are unfair expectations being placed upon the second-year pro?

Jordan Mason faces fluid situation on 49ers' running back depth chart

About the only guarantee for the 49ers' running back group is that McCaffrey will be the featured piece.

But McCaffrey has an injury history, meaning the No. 2 tailback will be vital in case the All-Pro suffers some sort of major setback. Plus, keeping McCaffrey fresh should be a key component of the Niners' game plan this season, too.

Currently, one might guess Mitchell would be favored for that spot. However, after missing all but five games last season, plus six the year before, the oft-injured Mitchell isn't exactly a reliable commodity.

Read more: Should Elijah Mitchell or Jordan Mason be 49ers' No. 2 running back?

After Mitchell and McCaffrey, the only threats to Mason's role is an underachieving second-year pro in Tyrion Davis-Price, whom Mason beat out on the depth chart last season, and two undrafted rookies in Ronald Awatt and Khalan Laborn.

Those are good odds for Mason.

Are fans expecting too much out of Jordan Mason in 2023?

The 5-foot-11, 223-pound Mason definitely has a buzz about him. Take a look around 49ers Twitter or Facebook, and you'll be hard-pressed to find any negative comments.

So, why wasn't Mason drafted? Will those reasons surface in year two?

It's hard to say, but Mason certainly seems to be one of those who benefits from a Niners-like offense, which features the run but creatively opens up lanes for tailbacks to exploit with great success, provided they have a handful of likable traits. Ones that Sermon and probably Davis-Price don't have.

For those wondering if Mason was just a low-key one-year wonder, reports stemming from mandatory minicamp earlier last spring suggested the second-year pro was more than impressive, taking every advantage while an injured Mitchell missed time.

From that vantage point, perhaps fans should expect Mason to be the No. 2 running back behind McCaffrey.

And to do well in the process, too.

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