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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

49ers RB Jeff Wilson shrugs off 10-touchdown season, looks ahead to offseason of work

Jan 3, 2021 at 8:17 PM--

Even if he doesn't seem overly impressed with what he accomplished in his third NFL season, Jeff Wilson certainly made his case throughout the year that he belongs as one of the top two running backs for the San Francisco 49ers in the foreseeable future.

Wilson capped his season with a touchdown run and a touchdown catch in the 49ers' 26-23 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, giving him a total of ten on the season (seven rushing, three receiving). Those are impressive numbers, but that accomplishment was overshadowed in his mind by what the team wasn't able to do in 2020.

"That's not a big a deal. I guess it's nice, but we didn't win," Wilson said after the loss to the Seahawks. "We didn't have a winning season because of it, so that's pretty much it."

Wilson finished the season with 600 yards on 126 carries in 12 games (4.8 average) with 13 catches for 133 yards. Those numbers make for the highest single-season output of his career by a good margin, while the quality of his play coming down the stretch suggests that having him and Raheem Mostert as the main running backs next season would be the best option for the 49ers. Wilson has had to wait his turn in the past behind backs like Mostert and Tevin Coleman, but he solidified himself in 2020 as being someone capable of carrying whatever load the 49ers need him to carry.

"Honestly, I feel like Jeff's done the same thing every time we've asked them to," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday. "Even last year. We didn't ask them as much last year, because there a few guys ahead of them who were playing at a very high level. And at that we were a little more fortunate with injuries last year at the running back position. But this year losing all of our guys pretty early that played last year, got him some opportunities fast. Then unfortunately he got hurt too. And then he was able to come back to the end and finish strong."

Wilson heads into the offseason as a pending restricted free agent, but it's safe to assume the 49ers will want to give him the type of tender offer that ensures he'll stick around for at least one more year. The priority for him this offseason -- and the running backs in general -- will be to work on doing what needs to be done to avoid the injury bug that popped up at times in 2020.

"Definitely our bodies. A lot of people say we get nicked easily," Wilson said. "Just staying on top of our bodies, which I know we are. That's the main thing I would say for us is making sure our bodies are right when we come back to take direction of the season."

Shanahan feels the same, saying, "I think the main thing with Jeff is, like a lot of guys on our team, him doing his part throughout this whole offseason and us doing our part to figure out how we can help him and anyone in any way. We've got a lot of good players, but we've got to find out how to handle the wear and tear of an entire season."

In the meantime, Wilson will take a break before getting back to the grind while also making sure to spend some time with his son, who will be turning two years old in March. Wilson told reporters Sunday his son played a big role in helping him get through the challenges of the 2020 season.

"It's been tough but I talk to my son on the phone every day," Wilson said. "I hear him call me Da-Da. I see him smile at me, see him laugh. I see his demeanor change when I get on the phone. Having that this whole entire time through the 32 weeks was the thing that kept me going. Yeah, it was tough, it was rough, but being able to call him on the phone every day, hearing his voice, hear him say 'I love you back' was priceless. It got me going."

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