San Francisco 49ers running backs Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon are reunited. The two were teammates at Georgia Southern. Breida signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2017 while McKinnon signed a four-year deal with the team in March.

The first thing McKinnon did upon joining the 49ers was Facetime his former college teammate. Breida knows it is rare that two college teammates who play the same position get an opportunity to play together in the NFL.

"We were excited, and we can't wait for the season," Breida told reporters on Wednesday.

McKinnon will be the 49ers' featured back, but that doesn't mean Breida won't get his opportunities. As a rookie backing up starter Carlos Hyde, Breida carried the football 105 times for 465 yards with two touchdowns. He also recorded 21 receptions for 180 yards and an additional score.

That's 5.1 yards per touch for Breida. Our own Al Sacco notes, by comparison, Hyde averaged 4.3 yards per touch last season while McKinnon had 4.9 in Minnesota. Don't expect the 49ers to be content with Breida sitting on the sideline. He will have a prominent role in Kyle Shanahan's offense.

"As [last] season progressed, Breida seemed to become more and more comfortable in Shanahan's offense," Sacco wrote in July, "and in turn saw his role expand after Jimmy Garoppolo took over under center. In the five games with Garoppolo, Breida rushed for 234 yards on 52 carries (4.5 ypc). He was especially good in the last two games of the season, gaining 146 yards on 23 attempts (6.3 ypc)."

The 49ers head coach also noticed the improvement in play and confidence toward the end of last season. Breida acknowledged that being thrown into the fire during his rookie season was a bit overwhelming.

"When we got to February, we were watching the cut-ups in the offseason," Shanahan said on Saturday. "You can see those last four games kind of start to click for him, really get the feel. He's got a lot of ability. He's tough. He runs hard. I think we could see it on tape.

"He's a smart guy who can feel it himself, too. You could tell when he came back here in the offseason and he came back with a different confidence."

Breida said he feels ten times more confident out there as he prepares to enter his second season in Shanahan's system. He understands the offense, concepts, and reasoning behind the plays better than he did during his first year.

McKinnon will be the guy expected to carry most of the load for the 49ers offense. Breida understands that and is excited to work with and learn from his friend. The media asked Breida how McKinnon has changed since the two were college teammates.

"The same guy," Breida answered. "Funny all the time, hard worker, he's always here very early. A big part of his game is pass blocking, and he takes pride in not even carrying the ball. I learn from him. I look up to him. He's like a mentor to me."

Breida knows there are aspects of his game on which he still needs work. He wants to learn from McKinnon, improve as a pass blocker, and become a great receiver out of the backfield. Until then, Breida knows that he and McKinnon can be good complementary weapons for the 49ers offense.

"I feel like him doing that and me being able to run the ball well, I feel like that compliments each other very well," Breida said. "I think we've got something great going here."