Don't Sleep on Matt Breida, Jerick McKinnon isn't the Only Show in Town

Matt Breida cleared up any confusion on Wednesday when a reporter unknowingly misstated his weight.

"I'm 200 (pounds) now," Breida said when he interjected the reporter. "I gained some weight."

While most of the offseason buzz surrounded the San Francisco 49ers free agent addition Jerick McKinnon, Breida made developments of his own. The running back enters Year 2 boasting ten pounds of added muscle and an unmistakable confidence.

"It's very noticeable. You could see it on tape," Kyle Shanahan said. "He's a smart guy who can feel it himself, too. You could tell when he came back here in the offseason and he came back with a different confidence. He took care of himself, worked hard in the offseason, was great in OTAs and the 40 days we were away, he even worked harder and was even more ready to go when we got back. He's been pretty impressive."

The undrafted free agent unseated Tim Hightower and Joe Williams for the primary backup role behind Carlos Hyde last year. By midseason, Breida found his groove. And his progression once Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted into the lineup only boosted his production. Breida registered at least 11 touches in four of the final five games of the season and amassed 234 rushing yards during that stretch.

"When we got to February, we were watching his cut-ups in the offseason. You can see those last four games kind of start to click for him," Shanahan added. "He's got a lot of ability. He's tough. He runs hard. I think we could see it on tape."

Breida finished his rookie campaign with 105 touches for 465 yards and two touchdowns. To put those numbers in perspective, Breida's production was the fourth-highest total for a 49ers rookie rusher behind Frank Gore (608 yards, 2005), Kevan Barlow (512 yards, 2001) and Kendall Hunter (473 yards, 2011). Breida is expected to play an even larger role heading into 2018.

"(Shanahan's) offense is crazy to learn, and me coming in there as a rookie and being thrown right into the fire was kind of overwhelming at first," Breida explained. "The second year around, you understand the offense. You understand why we're doing things (and understand) the concepts better. I feel ten times more comfortable out there than I did last year."

Breida has made a strong showing in the opening days of training camp. He's shown off his explosiveness, speed and ability to find the hole for big gains.

McKinnon and Breida are projected to become the one-two punch Shanahan likes to deploy with his running backs. Breida is relishing his reunion with his former Georgia Southern teammate and believes they can be a formidable tandem in this league.

"He's like a mentor to me," Bredia said of McKinnon. "Jerick's a great pass blocker. He gets in there, he makes amazing catches, that's one of the parts of the game I'm trying to get to where he's at. He's a great catcher out of the backfield. I feel like him doing that and me being able to run the ball well, I feel like that compliments each other very well.

"I feel like we've got something great going here."

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