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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


Jimmy Garoppolo expects 49ers’ young RBs to fill void left by Raheem Mostert injury

Chris Wilson
Sep 17, 2021 at 2:47 AM


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Garoppolo is optimistic the 49ers' inexperienced backfield is talented enough to shoulder the load in 2021.


On Wednesday, the San Francisco 49ers held a press conference with reporters at the team's temporary home for the week -- The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV, close to the Virginia border. Similar to years past, the 49ers chose to remain on the East Coast during a week bookended by a pair of 10:00 a.m. PT away games. Staying in the Eastern Time Zone will save the Niners roughly 4,000 miles of extra flight time and two additional disruptions to the circadian rhythm of the team.

The Greenbrier is a common venue for NFL teams to use for training purposes; both the Houston Texans and the New Orleans Saints made the facility their home during multiple preseason training camps over the last decade. San Francisco will train at The Greenbrier before traveling for its Sunday morning matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, a week after kicking off the 2021 NFL regular season in Detroit.

Among the coaches and players who spoke at the press conference, starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo answered questions related to the fallout from starting back running back Raheem Mostert's season-ending knee injury:

Obviously losing RB Raheem Mostert for the season is a big deal. How do you feel about the young guys, three guys that are still here as far as how they can kind of keep things rolling?

"You know, with Raheem it really sucks. It does. Just there's no way around it. It's one of those tough breaks for him, just get started, off to a hot start like that, and then you lose him. So we're going to miss him. But the young guys, like [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] did in the game and [RB JaMycal] Hasty, I've seen it last year with Hasty, he's always ready to roll. He's a gamer. And then we'll bring [RB] Trey [Sermon] along, get him ready for this week. I mean, they're a good group and they really are. They complement each other really well. It's a little bit of different tastes with each one of them. They each have their own style of doing it, but it's all effective. And I think with the O-Line we've got, tight ends, fullbacks, even receivers blocking it. It makes for a good group." -- Jimmy Garoppolo

Talking about those young running backs, how do you guys get them adjusted to what they're supposed to do when they're not carrying the ball?

"I think that just comes from practice. It'll come from the reps, the communication with the O-Line, me. Coach [running backs coach Robert] Turner [Jr.] does a great job of getting those guys ready. They're always ready to come in and just, I mean, we have a pretty good rotation with the three of them. And so it's kind of pick your poison, but those guys are always ready to roll. And so just the communication part of it, being on the road in Philly, it will be loud this week. So that will be a good test for us too, but I think those guys are ready for it." -- Jimmy Garoppolo

The "young guys" Garoppolo referenced have a dearth of NFL experience. The trio is comprised of two rookies and one second-year running back, JaMycal Hasty, who amassed just 148 rushing yards during limited playing time in 2020. In Mostert's absence on Sunday, sixth-rounder Elijah Mitchell filled in admirably in his first NFL game action, as the rookie finished the contest with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown score. Third-round draft pick Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch for Week 1 because he failed to outplay the three aforementioned backs, according to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Expect Sermon to see the field and play an active role for the team this Sunday in Philadelphia and moving forward.

In response to Mostert's injury, the 49ers have also been active in free agency and on the waiver wire, as the team signed former Lions RB Kerryon Johnson to the practice squad. Although Johnson has yet to live up to his second-round draft position, the former Detroit Lion has the skills necessary to be an asset to the team, provided he stays healthy. The Niners also claimed former sixth-rounder Trenton Cannon, who was waived by the Baltimore Ravens earlier in the week. Although Cannon has more receiving yards than rushing yards during his time in the NFL, he can also return kicks, and possesses a rare combination of agility paired with 4.4 speed. Finally, fan favorite Jeff Wilson Jr. -- currently on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list due to a meniscus injury -- plans to return to the team later in the year.

Mostert's production would be a challenge for just one player to replace, but the San Francisco 49ers' bevy of young runners, and new veteran backs with varied skill sets, will aim to keep the Niners' running game in form for the remainder of the 2021 season.
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