Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Juszczyk, Kyle Shanahan evaluate deep running back group and what it means for the 49ers

Jul 28, 2019 at 11:02 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers didn't have to add to their running back group this offseason. The team already had Jerick McKinnon returning from an ACL injury and the player who replaced him last year, Matt Breida, ready to compete for playing time.

McKinnon was lost for the year before the regular season kicked off. Breida was banged up for most of the year but fought through the season. Raheem Mostert, who until last year was primarily a special-teams contributor, tried to take on some of the workload but a broken forearm ended his season.

Then the 49ers added Tevin Coleman. Now, the group is deep. Very deep. San Francisco could have one of the deepest running back groups in the league. Perhaps. That all depends on health and living up to potential, which seems to be a theme for the entire roster.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk spoke with reporters on Saturday and discussed the surprisingly deep group of running backs, and what having so much talent means for the 49ers in 2019.

"I think all of them have a similarity in speed," Juszczyk said. "These guys are fast. But I do think they complement each other well and that they're going to be able to kind of spare each other when one guy maybe is a little tired. You're not losing anything by bringing in your second guy, your third guy, even our fourth guy. We feel like all those guys are at a starting-caliber level that there's really not much of a drop-off when one has to come out."

Juszczyk clarified that he doesn't think the 49ers have four of the same guy. Each running back has his own strengths, and head coach Kyle Shanahan will have no problem taking advantage of those strengths.

As for Coleman, Juszczyk has been impressed with the new addition.

"Number one, he works his tail off," Juszczyk said. "He really does. Just from a work standpoint, coming in here in the spring, that stood out to me right away. But as far as on the football field, I think he does an incredible job of running the wide zone, which includes pressing his blocks. You always hear about that one-cut kind of runner, and I think he's really good at that.

"The other thing is the guy finishes in the end zone. That was one thing I couldn't help but notice when we were watching Atlanta tape; the guy kept finishing in the end zone, and I feel like that's something that we missed. Having that is really going to add to our offense."

Shanahan says you can never have too much talent at one position. That was evident last year when the team started looking to its practice squad and street free agents for players who could fill in. That's why San Francisco decided to target Coleman in free agency when it saw he was available.

The addition wasn't a knock on McKinnon, who was supposed to be last year's featured back. Remember, Shanahan had to throw out a significant chunk of his playbook after the running back was sidelined for the season.

"We made a commitment to Jet [a year] ago to come in here and be our starting running back," Shanahan told reporters on Friday. "We had to decide between him and Carlos (Hyde), and we went with Jet, and we were excited about that. And he had such an unfortunate injury, and we had to go the year without him."

McKinnon started training camp on the team's physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. It was a precautionary move after the running back had what was described as a "flare-up" in his knee a couple of weeks ago.

"I expect Jet to be good to go soon and I think he'll be there for Week 1," Shanahan explained. "But, it's so nice that if just maybe not, that you do have some other guys where the pressure is not all on you, where he felt like it was a little bit last year."

Breida filled in admirably for McKinnon but had to deal with injuries himself. Still, he finished the year with a career-high 814 rushing yards on 153 carries with three touchdowns through 14 games and 13 starts. He also showed off his versatility by hauling in 27 passes for 261 receiving yards and another two scores.

"We were very excited with Breida as a backup going into that year, and he filled in great as a starter," Shanahan said. "But, he got banged up all year. We ended up having to go with our practice squad guys and play with four backs, and now we have four to start with that are starting-caliber guys. And we used four last year. So, the fact that we have four on our roster now is a very good thing to have."

Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

49ers Notebook: OL Spencer Burford looks ahead to starting; WR Ray-Ray McCloud's reflections on Kyle Shanahan; Shanahan pleased with Javon Kinlaw

By Kirk Larrabee
23 hrs

The 49ers are just three days away from their preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT, Friday), a game that will give 49ers fans the chance to see a number of their team's players in on-field action for the first time. Two particular newcomers of interest to keep an eye on Friday night will be offensive lineman Spencer Burford and wide receiver/return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud. Burford is progressing towards starting as a rookie at right guard after being selected by the 49ers in Round 4 of the 2022 NFL Draft, while McCloud will be making his 49ers preseason debut after signing with the team as a free agent in the offseason. McCloud is expected to be the primary return specialist for the 49ers this season, but there's a chance he could also

Kyle Shanahan on why Thursday was a 'real good' practice despite interceptions, and how picky 49ers are about Jimmy Garoppolo's destination

By Kirk Larrabee
Jul 29

Trey Lance didn't exactly have a great stat line during Thursday's training camp session for the San Francisco 49ers, but head coach Kyle Shanahan says Lance was correct when he said Thursday's practice was better than Wednesday's despite multiple interceptions by the team's quarterbacks. Lance threw one of those interceptions and completed seven of 15 passes throughout the practice, while backups Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy threw three combined picks, according to 49ers beat reporter Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. But afterwards, Lance told reporters he was encouraged with

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers were 'locked in' on Trey Lance and Mac Jones leading to 2021 draft

By David Bonilla
23 hrs

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan joined the I Am Athlete podcast and was asked about the process leading to the team selecting quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall draft pick last year. There was a lot of speculation surrounding who the 49ers were looking to draft after trading up from the No. 12 spot. Many felt Shanahan had targeted quarterback Mac Jones, while many fans scoffed at the idea. Jones was a target—along with Lance. "We did the trade so early that it made me feel good about it because I knew before we did it how I felt about the quarterbacks," Shanahan said,

Could Kyle Shanahan keep Jimmy Garoppolo? Who plays Friday night? And more 49ers mailbag questions answered

By Marc Adams
8 hrs

The San Francisco 49ers have a game this week. Not one that counts, or one that even has much meaning. Although it is meaningful to some young players trying to make the team. Friday night we get our first look at some of the new 49ers we've yet to see, as San Francisco squares off with the Green Bay Packers. Who will play? Who won't play? What if Trey Lance looks bad? We have answers to all your team questions and more. Let's open the mailbag. What will Shanahan do if Lance stays around a 50 percent comp % in camp and preseason? Will he still get rid of Jimmy and still start Lance? - Daniel K. Jimmy Garoppolo is still with the team, but only because a decision on what to do with him has yet to be made. He isn't practicing with the team, he isn't


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone