Pre-Draft Tracker: Visits, Meetings, Workouts, Picks →
placeholder image

Erin Woodiel-USA TODAY Sports


Running backs under the 49ers Christmas tree in the NFL Draft

Apr 18, 2023 at 9:15 AM--


Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above.
The NFL Draft is like Christmas to football fans because you hope the college football players you watched will be selected to join your favorite team. This year, the 49ers have a strong returning roster without any glaring needs, so they should strengthen the team in this year's draft.

With Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, and last year's third-round pick, Tyrion Davis-Price, on the roster and their history of getting running backs late or undrafted, don't expect one under the tree this year. However, if San Francisco were to get a running back in the 2023 NFL Draft, these three players could be a good fit.

Lew Nichols III


Lew Nichols, out of Central Michigan, can become a diamond in the rough like Elijah Mitchell. When the 49ers drafted Mitchell in 2021, key injuries at running back gave him an opportunity and he ended up leading the team in rushing yards. Mitchell and Nichols have the same playing style, are rarely brought down by the first defender, are solid pass-catchers, and can handle many carries. Despite both players not having blazing speed, one of Nichols' strengths is his ability to pick up blitzes. In his junior year with the Chippewas, Nichols rushed for 1,846 yards and 16 touchdowns, including two 200-yard games and a 130-yard and one-touchdown game against the Washington State Cougars in the 2021 Sun Bowl.

Even though Nichols didn't produce anywhere near the same numbers during his senior season as he put up the previous year, he is a football player. Nichols is not a "Hollywood back," or a running back who does his best work outside the tackles. He runs inside with authority and his threat to catch the ball out of the backfield is another feather in his cap. According to NFLDraftBuzz, a concern about Nichols is his limited route tree in the passing game. If this is a knock, going to San Francisco and playing in Kyle Shanahan's scheme will correct that.



Hunter Luepke


Since signing fullback Kyle Juszczyk in 2017, the veteran could arguably be ranked in the top-three all-time for the 49ers at his position. In his 10-year career, "Juice" has seven Pro Bowl selections and has become a fan favorite, so if you can find a player like him, why not take a chance? North Dakota State's Hunter Luepke is your classic "Steak and Potatoes." He is not a flash-in-the-pan player, but the effort on the field will show, and he can be another fan favorite like Juszczyk.

Luepke, who played with quarterback Trey Lance, is a hard-nosed lead blocker who will get the hard yards and catch the ball out of the backfield. In four seasons with the Bison, the star fullback rushed for 1,665 yards, earning many individual awards, including the 2022 NCAA Championship game Most Outstanding Player award when the Bison blew out the Montana State Bobcats 38-10 in the 2022 FCS Championship game. Even though the Niners have "Juice," it won't hurt to have Luepke on their roster.



Sarodorick Thompson


Thompson is not a "Hollywood Back" either, but could be a sleeper pick if he is put in a good situation, and the 49ers could be that right offense. In his five years playing for Texas Tech, Thompson averaged 4.98 yards per carry in a pass-happy Red Raiders offense. Because he split carries in college, Thompson's legs should be fresh, so you do not have to worry about wear and tear.

Thompson's career-best game came in a 2019 clash against Baylor. Thompson rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Golden Bears. According to NFLDraftBuzz, Thompson has good vision for picking cut-back lanes, good balance between the tackles, and is a capable receiver. Like Nichols, the concern is with Thompson's lack of route tree, but that can be coached, especially playing in Shanahan's offense.

  • Written by:
    Sports has been my first love since I was 12 years old. At one point I wanted to play football professionally. I started to take photography as a hobby in my teenage years but this was when I followed sports. I started to listen to sports radio, I found my true calling and it was to be a sports talk show host. Though I follow football and basketball, I started to have a new love of cultures around the world. After graduating from San Antonio College in 2018, I worked for the Castroville News Bulletin before going to A&M San Antonio to get my communications degree. Since I have written for the Ranger of San Antonio College, the News Bulletin and the Mesquite of Texas A&M San Antonio, I met many people and went to a lot of events. My major milestone was being in the press box of the San Antonio Commanders game for the Mesquite and being apart of a press conference with the Medina County Sheriff and other local news outlets. When I am not doing anything, I like to watch old cartoons on the DC Universe, play video games such as Mega Man and the Mass Effect series. I have also created Youtube channel called "Anger Management" with my friend Aaron Donnell.
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.



Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News


placeholder image

49ers mailbag: Who is most likely to be traded? What positions will SF draft? Which free-agent pass rushers will the 49ers pursue?

By Marc Adams
Feb 28

It's been a quiet couple of weeks for the San Francisco 49ers. Other than firing defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, and that little Super Bowl thing, there hasn't been much going on. But this week kicks off the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and free agency is only a couple of weeks away. So things will soon pick up. GM John Lynch spoke with reporters at the Combine on Tuesday. And while he didn't give a lot of new information, there were still some highlights to discuss. So we opened up the 49ers Webzone Mailbag to see what questions you had about the team. Let's jump in and take a look. Who are you hoping for (as defensive coordinator)? - Brian J. I think we are all hoping for some big name from the outside, but I don't expect that to


placeholder image

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has 49ers adding pass rusher at No. 31

By David Bonilla
Feb 28

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper unveiled his latest mock draft, projecting the 32 selections of the first round. For the first time since 2021, the San Francisco 49ers own a first-round selection and could use the pick to bolster the offensive line or the defensive backfield. However, Kiper has the team going in another direction. He proposes adding a pass rusher to complement defensive end Nick Bosa on the opposite side. Kiper's pick for San Francisco is Chop Robinson of Penn State. Kiper wrote, "It has to be offensive line or edge rusher for the 49ers, right? They need to find


placeholder image

How owning a 1st-round pick impacts (or doesn't) the 49ers' draft strategy

By David Bonilla
Feb 29

Barring any unforeseen changes between now and the end of April, the San Francisco 49ers will be making a first-round selection in the draft for the first time since 2021. The team's last two first-round picks were part of the deal used to move up and select quarterback Trey Lance three years ago. With Lance now a member of the Dallas Cowboys and Brock Purdy inked in as the 49ers' starter for the foreseeable future, the team is in a different position heading into this year's draft. They expect to own 11 selections, including the No. 31 overall pick. General manager John Lynch and his staff are currently in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine. They are evaluating prospects and strategizing for the upcoming draft, including what to do with their first-round


placeholder image

Why Daniel Jeremiah favors Graham Barton for the 49ers' first-round draft pick

By David Bonilla
Feb 22

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently unveiled his updated mock draft, pinpointing the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line as an area for improvement. In his draft scenario, Jeremiah projects the 49ers selecting former Duke left tackle Graham Barton, envisioning a transition to guard in Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme. However, some have questioned whether Barton warrants a first-round selection. On Thursday, Jeremiah addressed these concerns in a conference call with reporters, defending his choice of Barton within his mock


Latest

Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone