The 49ers Must Feature This Player In Week Two Vs Seattle

September 14, 2022
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The 49ers lost their season opener to the Chicago Bears with a final score of 19-10. Although leading in nearly every statistical category, the Niners’ offense stalled against an inferior opponent. San Francisco is preparing this week to face another inferior roster and needs to feature a specific player to avoid another offensive drought.

Who Can Step Up For The 49ers?

Starting running back Elijah Mitchell went down with an MCL sprain in the middle of the game that will keep him sidelined for two months on injured reserve. Mitchell was playing great in Week One averaging 6.8 yards per carry before he was injured. And he was doing well in terrible field conditions without starting tight end George Kittle as a blocker.

In a relief for Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr. entered the game at running back and was underwhelming in his nine carries. Wilson Jr. only averaged 2.4 yards per carry in the contest and lacked the explosiveness in the backfield to pose a real threat to Chicago’s defense. His lack of production also diminished the effectiveness of play-action in the passing game. It’s likely Wilson Jr. will start on Sunday against Seattle, but relying on the veteran to produce at a high level for four quarters might not fit the bill.

The 49ers drafted running back, Tyrion Davis-Price from LSU with their third-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. TDP was inactive for Week One’s contest in Chicago primarily due to special teams. We likely see him activated in Week Two and he’ll probably get his first carries as an NFL player. But the player the Niners may be able to lean on until Mitchell’s return is undrafted free agent running back, Jordan Mason.

Mason was one of the highest graded running backs in the preseason and consistently showed his explosiveness as he earned a spot on the 53-man roster. With Mason’s burst, speed and physicality he might be the Niners’ biggest threat to opposing defenses at running back. Out of the ones who are currently healthy that is.

Unlike Davis-Price, Jordan Mason was active for the 49ers in the season opener against the Bears. He didn’t get any snaps on offense, but why? Is it because Kyle didn’t trust a rookie over a veteran, especially in bad conditions? We’re not entirely sure, but it sure couldn’t have hurt much to give the rookie some run.

Why The 49ers Need To Play Jordan Mason

With the lack of production from Wilson Jr., the Niners need to feature Jordan Mason against the Seahawks in a must-win game. The Seahawks struggled to stop the run as did the Bears in Week One. However, Wilson Jr. was the only 49er who seemed to struggle running the ball against the Bears. Kyle Shanahan has gone to the running back by committee method before in 2019 with Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert, so why can’t he do the same now?

At this point, unless Wilson Jr. goes out there on Sunday and looks like his 2020 self, the starting job with Mitchell out and the backup role for when he returns should be up for grabs. When one doesn’t produce just allow another player to step in and show what they can provide. But Jordan Mason needs to get snaps on Sunday to hopefully spark some life and explosiveness into the backfield to avoid an 0-2 hole for the Niners.

San Francisco also just signed veteran running back Marlon Mack to the practice squad as a potential depth piece in the backfield. It is unclear if Mack will be on the active roster for game day, but if so he would be a good option to give snaps to as well if Shanahan truly doesn’t trust playing his rookies when he doesn’t have to. However, Jordan Mason made this roster for a reason as an undrafted free agent. The Niners saw enough in him to feel comfortable moving on from former third-round pick Trey Sermon. So why not get him involved when you’re shorthanded against an inferior opponent who struggles to stop the run?

With a must-win situation this weekend, Kyle Shanahan must use everything at his disposal to put Trey Lance and the rest of the offense in a position to be successful. The way to do that is to run the football down the opposing defenses’ throats. And unless Shanahan believes his veteran’s 2.4 yards per carry will do the trick, it’s time to play the youngster. We may have a better idea of what a veteran’s “floor” is, but Mason’s ceiling is something worth exploring this season. This Sunday against Seattle is the time to start finding out what the youngster is really made of.