Every day leading up to the start of training camp set for July 28, 49ers.com will assess each position group on the roster as we get closer to the season. In this installment, we will address the running back position and any potential lineup changes heading into the season.
The biggest change among the 49ers running backs heading into 2020 is the departure of Matt Breida, who was sent to the Miami Dolphins during April's draft. Outside of the former undrafted back, the rest of San Francisco's crop of ball carriers are returning, including sidelined running back Jerick McKinnon.
In addition to San Francisco's returnees, the 49ers signed undrafted rookies Salvon Ahmed out of Washington and JaMycal Hasty from Baylor following the 2020 draft. With Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner's success in developing talent, can either of San Francisco's undrafted rookies emerge as a premiere option among the 49ers crowded backfield? Will the shift in workload last season carry over in 2020? How will McKinnon's health impact his return in San Francisco? Also, does this unit have potential to remain one of the most potent groups in the league without Breida?
The 49ers lost Jerick McKinnon for the second-straight year with a knee injury, having to place the running back on season-ending Injured Reserve ahead of the regular season. The unit managed to produce, despite the blow to the offense, as San Francisco went on to boast the league's No. 2 ranked rushing attack in 2019. Spearheaded by a talented offensive line and trio of running backs, the 49ers excelled on the ground, averaging 144.1 yards per game and leading the NFL with 23 rushing touchdowns.
Three of the 49ers ball carriers rushed for over 500 yards last season: Raheem Mostert (772), Matt Breida (623) and Tevin Coleman (544). It marked the first time the 49ers had three players rush for over 500 yards in a single season since 1954. San Francisco also relied on second-year undrafted back Jeff Wilson Jr. throughout the season, who added five total touchdowns in 2019.
Running Back Breakdown
Raheem Mostert: In his fourth season in San Francisco, Mostert registered career highs in rushing attempts (137), rushing yards (772), rushing touchdowns (8), receptions (14), receiving yards (180) and receiving touchdowns (2). He also led the team with 14 tackles and recorded a fumble recovery on special teams. Mostert averaged 5.64 yards per carry in 2019, ranked second in the NFL among all qualifying players and first among running backs.
Over the past two seasons (2018-19), Mostert has averaged 6.04 yards per carry, leading all players in the NFL with at least 125 carries.
Tevin Coleman: In his first season with the 49ers, Coleman appeared in 14 games (11 starts) and registered 137 carries for 544 yards and six touchdowns, in addition to 21 receptions for 180 yards and a receiving score. He was also on hand for all three of San Francisco's postseason contests (two starts) and notched 33 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Jerick McKinnon: An ACL injury at the start of the 2018 season followed by additional complications have kept McKinnon sidelined his entire tenure in San Francisco. Prior to joining the 49ers, McKinnon managed 991 total yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings while sharing touches with fellow running back Dalvin Cook. McKinnon has shared his offseason workouts via his Instagram, as the running back is seen running and making cuts on his surgically repaired knee.
Jeff Wilson Jr.: Wilson Jr. was signed to the 49ers practice squad at the start of the 2019 season. He was activated to the 53-man roster by Week 2 of the regular season following a high-ankle sprain suffered by Coleman in the season opener. Wilson Jr. went on to appear in 10 games and registered 27 carries for 105 yards and a single-season career-high four touchdowns. He also added three receptions for 34 yards and game-winning touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.
Jamycal Hasty: Undrafted out of Baylor, Hasty appeared in 45 games (16 starts) and registered 386 carries for 1,998 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also notched 79 receptions for 485 yards and one touchdown. The running back also recorded 16 kick returns for 333 yards. In 2019, he played in 14 games (three starts) and rushed for 627 yards and seven touchdowns on 109 carries. He added 25 receptions for 184 yards and six kick returns for 118 yards.
Salvon Ahmed: Ahmed joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent from the University of Washington. He played in 39 games (15 starts) in three seasons with the Huskies (2017-19) and registered 353 carries for 2,016 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 50 receptions for 331 yards.
Kyle Juszczyk (Fullback): San Francisco's "offensive weapon" started all 12 games in which he appeared and recorded 20 receptions for 239 yards and a touchdown in 2019. He also started all three postseason games and registered three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LIV. According to NFL Research, Juszczyk became the seventh fullback to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl and the first since Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Alstott in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Juszczyk also recovered a fumble by Atlanta Falcons running back Kenjon Barner in Week 15, marking his second-career special teams fumble recovery. The takeaway led to his 2-yard touchdown reception two plays later, his first of the season and eighth of his career.
Josh Hokit (Fullback): Hokit signed with the 49ers after going undrafted out of Fresno State. The fullback appeared in 51 games (eight starts) in four years with the Bulldogs (2016-19) and rushed for 805 yards and 17 touchdowns on 303 carries. He also tallied 25 receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown. Last season, he appeared in 12 games (one start) and recorded 75 carries for 287 yards and nine touchdowns while adding 17 receptions for 97 yards and a score.