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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

How John Lynch, 49ers challenged RB Trey Sermon this offseason

Aug 26, 2022 at 9:01 AM--

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Trey Sermon's rookie campaign with the San Francisco 49ers can be categorized as a disappointment. The third-round pick was expected to own a more significant role with the offense. Instead, he managed just 167 rushing yards and a touchdown on 41 carries through nine games and two starts.

Elijah Mitchell, drafted three rounds after Sermon, ended up being San Francisco's starter, and set a new franchise rookie record for rushing yards with his 963 yards through 11 games.

The 49ers felt they had an answer to Sermon's rookie struggles. During Amazon's pre-game show leading to last night's preseason matchup against the Houston Texans, general manager John Lynch said Sermon struggled in an area common with young tailbacks. He automatically wanted to bounce to the outside on his runs rather than cutting inside.

"So we really challenged Trey to do that," Lynch said, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic. "He worked really hard and he's had a tremendous offseason. It hasn't shown up in the games, but throughout training camp he's been one of our best players. So we're excited about him."

Sermon finished the game against the Texans with just 20 rushing yards on eight carries. That's 2.5 yards per carry for the second-year running back. That brings his preseason total to 39 yards on 19 carries. With a running back room crowded with talent, it's probably not the best preseason performance for a young player looking to prove he should be part of the 53-man roster.

As Barrows notes, though, it wasn't just Sermon who struggled to run the football. His 20 rushing yards actually led the 49ers against the Texans. Jeff Wilson Jr. had 16, Jordan Mason had seven, and Ty Davis-Price lost three yards.

The reason for that is likely due to the rocky performance by an inexperienced offensive line that was missing tackles Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey. The interior of the line, however, will remain a question mark heading into Week 1 thanks to the offseason losses of guard Laken Tomlinson (signed with the Jets) and center Alex Mack (retirement).

While it was just a preseason game, which doesn't really matter, it is obvious that there are some concerns for the 49ers offense as they prepare to kick off their 2022 campaign. For Sermon, it may result in failing to make the roster. We'll see.

NFL teams must cut their rosters down to 53 players by Tuesday at 1 p.m. PT.


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