Vincent Carchietta/Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta/Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN ranks 49ers’ tandem of Raheem Mostert and Jerick McKinnon as the 6th best in the NFL

Oct 6, 2020 at 9:20 AM--

Did you know the San Francisco 49ers are the only team with two running backs who have over 100 receiving yards this season? That little tidbit comes courtesy of ESPN's Mike Clay, who this week ranked the top running back tandems in the NFL following the injury to Cleveland Browns ball carrier Nick Chubb.

The 49ers' duo of Raheem Mostert and Jerick McKinnon came in sixth on Clay's list, behind the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Denver Broncos.

"49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has done an incredible job converting ex-backups into highly productive and super-efficient forces, so it's almost hard to know how much credit to give the backs," wrote Clay. "Still, we can't ignore the fact that the 49ers' backfield has ranked no lower than fifth in scrimmage yards in each of the past three seasons. That includes a 2020 campaign in which they sit third despite Mostert and Tevin Coleman missing extensive action."

The 49ers initially signed Mostert in November of 2016, and the running back was a key contributor on special teams. Mostert's performance on offense at the end of last season thrust him into the spotlight. The running back led the team with 772 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 137 carries. He added six receptions for 110 yards and a receiving score.

It was Mostert's performance in the NFC Championship game that made everyone take notice. He embarrassed the Green Bay Packers defense, rushing for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 attempts, and lifting the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth.

Mostert's career 6.1 yards per carry ranks first in NFL history among running backs with at least 150 carries. He has been sidelined since Week 2 when he suffered a knee injury. Mostert's status for this weekend remains up in the air.

"We'll see on Wednesday," Shanahan said Monday of Mostert's potential availability against the Miami Dolphins. "I'm not real optimistic, but I know he does have a chance Wednesday, and it will get more and more each day that goes in the week. But we've got to wait to see how he comes in then."

After spending two seasons on injured reserve, McKinnon is finally getting an opportunity to show what he can do within Shanahan's offense. The 49ers signed McKinnon in 2018, but the running back suffered an ACL injury just before the start of that season.

McKinnon has rushed for 193 yards on 34 carries (5.7 yards per carry) and found the end zone four times — three times on the ground and once in the air. The back has registered a touchdown in each of his first four games this year, becoming the first member of the 49ers since Jerry Rice in 1991 to score at least one touchdown in each of the team's first four games of a season.

"Coleman and even Jeff Wilson Jr. should also be mentioned as talented depth, though we are obviously focusing on tandems today," adds Clay.

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