Running backs coach Bobby Turner spoke with the media as the San Francisco 49ers concluded the final phase of OTAs this week. Turner has spent more than two decades coaching NFL running backs and assisted in the development of a number of 1,000-yard rushers during his career. Some of his more notable pupils include Atlanta Falcons Devonta Freeman, former Washington Redskins Alfred Morris and former Denver Broncos Terrell Davis.
In his second season in San Francisco, Turner looks to produce the 49ers first four-figure rusher since Frank Gore in 2014.
Here are Turner’s updates on three members of the 49ers backfield.
The 49ers zeroed in on McKinnon this offseason as their top free agent priority. McKinnon, who has spent his career as a complimentary back, will get his first crack at being a season-long starter. Turner has liked what he’s seen so far through OTAs and believes McKinnon’s skill set fits perfectly into Kyle Shanahan's system.
“He’s a complete running back. I’m very impressed with his competition,” Turner said. “He competes every snap. It’s important to him. He’s here for a reason. We feel that he’s going to be productive and help take us to the next level. We’re expecting great things out of him.
“We’re looking for a complete running back. He can catch the ball. He can pass block, and he can finish every play. One thing that is different, he is faster. He has that explosive speed. When he breaks level two, level three, he has that explosive speed that can separate him from everyone else.”
Breida has flashed during OTAs, and Coach Turner acknowledged Brieda's improvements as a pass catcher ahead of Year 2. Breida hauled in a perfectly placed deep ball from Jimmy Garoppolo down the right sideline during the team’s open practice on Tuesday.
“That’s one of the things Matt has really worked on and concentrated on is catching the football with people around him,” Turner said.
In addition to his 465 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, Breida hauled in 21 receptions for 180 receiving yards and another score last season.
Kyle Shanahan was so sold on Williams that the 49ers traded up 22 spots and gave up a fifth-round pick to select him in the 2017 NFL Draft. Despite the big expectation, Williams missed the entire 2017 season with an ankle injury. Now with a full year of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook under his belt, Williams will look to solidify himself during training camp as a viable option in the 49ers run game.
“Unfortunately he got hurt and wasn’t able to practice, but the bottom line with anyone in their second year is the maturity and the growth being in the system for a year,” Turner said.
“Since we’ve been out here (at OTAs) he’s (had big bursts). He’s been showing that. He’s been flashing. That’s what I expected out of him.”