Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Why the 49ers drafted a running back in the third round

Rohan Chakravarthi
May 6, 2022 at 9:00 AM--

With their first 2022 NFL Draft selection not coming until No. 61 overall, the San Francisco 49ers were required to remain patient without a first-round selection for the first time in the Lynch-Shanahan era due to last year's trade-up to select quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick.

With that first selection, the 49ers took USC edge rusher Drake Jackson, who some analysts considered a fringe first-round talent, making it shocking that he was still available near the end of the second round.

However, with their second selection at pick No. 93, the 49ers surprised many, drafting LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who not only was a player at a position of low value, but also a player projected to go potentially one or two rounds later. So, why did they select Davis-Price at that spot?

Last offseason, the 49ers selected two running backs in the draft, despite already rostering four 53-man candidates, taking Ohio State product Trey Sermon in the third round and Louisiana product Elijah Mitchell.

While Sermon struggled to find adequate playing time, Mitchell was the 49ers' leading rusher in 2021, carrying the ball 207 times for 963 yards, essentially serving as a bell-cow back for the team as they made it to their second NFC Championship in three years.

But, en route to garnering over 200 carries last year, Mitchell dealt with a number of injuries, including shoulder, rib, and chest injuries, as well as a finger fracture, concussion, and a knee patella sprain, costing him six total games.

With the selection of Davis-Price, it appears that the 49ers are trying to correct course from their Sermon selection a year ago, as the move almost assuredly drops Sermon on the depth chart, potentially even to the fourth running back on the roster behind Mitchell, Davis-Price, and veteran Jeff Wilson Jr.

Davis-Price can operate as a complement to Elijah Mitchell, as his combination of explosiveness and strength will help move the chains for the 49ers between the tackles.

The 49ers have spent the offseason solidifying the roster around second-year quarterback Trey Lance, adding gadget weapon Ray-Ray McCloud as a receiver, while also adding significant depth to the offensive line.

Adding Davis-Price to the mix further indicates the 49ers' plan to run the ball significantly in 2022, but also serves as insurance for Elijah Mitchell, as the 49ers were forced to use Deebo Samuel as a running back last year due to the lack of available bodies at the position.

Davis-Price has shown good reps as a pass-protector as well, although his lack of usage as a receiver provides skepticism for his ability as a third-down back.

While the pick wasn't the best use of resources, given there were multiple safeties on the board and a number of other good players within reach, Davis-Price is a good player who could end up being San Francisco's biggest contributor from the rookie class in Year 1.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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