San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ rookie RB named San Francisco’s top breakout candidate

As if it wasn’t clear enough that San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has an affinity for the run game, the offensive guru — along with general manager John Lynch — drafted two running backs in this year’s NFL Draft.

And with offseason injuries to running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, one of those rookies sits atop the depth chart as the 49ers prepare for training camp on July 27. And with that, The Athletic named rookie third-round pick Trey Sermon as San Francisco’s best breakout candidate in 2021.

The third-round pick already was likely to be part of the tailback rotation. With Wilson out, he moved up a notch. Sermon is big, well-versed in zone-running schemes and has the backing of position coach Bobby Turner. The 49ers aspire to have more than 500 rushing attempts this season and, if he’s healthy, Sermon ought to get a big chunk of them.

Matt Barrows/The Athletic

Sermon, who played three years at Oklahoma before transferring to Ohio State for his senior year, measures 6-feet tall and 215 pounds, and as Matt Barrows of The Athletic points out, he’s accustomed to Shanahan’s zone-run scheme. That could certainly lead to fireworks on the field.

But Mostert will return from a sprained knee by the start of the regular season, so he’ll likely remain the starter. Wilson suffered a meniscus tear, however, and will possibly return in October. Regardless, Sermon should get plenty of chances, considering how often Shanahan likes to run the football. As a third-round pick from a pair of big-name schools, Sermon should be up to the challenge.

(Photo courtesy of Jake Lindenberg/The Volante)

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