Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan: Tevin Coleman not a lock to play vs. Browns; 49ers would consider carrying four running backs

Oct 4, 2019 at 7:29 AM--

Running back Tevin Coleman got back on the practice field on Thursday after suffering a high-ankle sprain during Week 1. While his return is promising news, head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR on Friday morning and said he doesn't consider Coleman to be a lock to play on Monday night.

"We're going to decide how this pans out," Shanahan said on the "Murph and Mac" show. "We saw Tevin yesterday. He looks good. He's still coming back, though, from that injury, and we'll make a decision based off these three practices."

Added Shanahan: "He's not a lock to play. I think I'll have a much better decision on that today. We went into this week knowing he's not a lock to play, especially coming back on a short week where the Rams having 10 days of rest, and us going to be coming off a Monday night game with six days. That can be real tough on running backs.

"He looked good yesterday. We want to see how he looks today. If he looks the same, then I pretty much consider him a lock to be up there. But you want to see how he recovers or if he's sore or stiff from the day before."

Coleman will eventually return to the 49ers lineup. Everyone is wondering what happens to the rest of the running back group when he returns. San Francisco already has three talented rushers in Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr. Do you knock one of those guys off the roster to fit in Coleman?

Not necessarily.

The 49ers could cut one of their backs loose, but Shanahan isn't against carrying four running backs into a game if the rest of the roster allows for it.

"We can always consider getting four backs up," Shanahan said. "It's just kind of hard to play four backs, so it comes down to special teams. When you do get four backs up, then where do you go short? Do you go short in O-linemen? Do you go short at corner or short at receiver? None of that is a problem until one guy gets hurt. It's a guessing game."

Shanahan notes that he believes the Atlanta Falcons went with two running backs during 13 games in 2016 when he was the offensive coordinator there. That "scared the heck" out of Shanahan.

"I've lost a back in warmups before," Shanahan commented.

While it seems likely that a running back gets pushed off the active roster when Coleman is 100 percent healthy and returns, it isn't a given.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

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