After missing the last three games with a knee injury, running back Elijah Mitchell bounced back and led the San Francisco 49ers run game with explosive plays, averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per carry.
San Francisco was happy to have the rookie back in their 23-7 victory over the Houston Texans, where Mitchell rushed for 119 yards on 21 carries and was perfect on his two targets for 11 yards and a touchdown.
"I love all our backs, but Elijah has played at another level this year," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "When he's in there, we're just very efficient. We always get at least what it's blocked for and you see how good he reads those gaps and seams to find a way to get through there."
In the first week of the season, the team's captain and starting running back Raheem Mostert suffered a season-ending knee injury and left big shoes to fill for the rookie. But Shanahan believes that Mitchell has "done a hell of a job" in stepping up to the plate and playing dominant throughout the season. In fact, the rusher made history in Sunday's contest.
Surpassing running back Vic Washington, Mitchell broke the 49ers single-season franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie. Washington held the record by earning 811 yards within 14 games in 1971, and Mitchell finished the day increasing his season total to 878 rushing yards – accomplishing the feat in only 10 game appearances.
"I wouldn't be able to do that without my offensive linemen," Mitchell said postgame. "They, all 11, are blocking their butts off for me."
The sixth-round pick is proving to be a key player for the 49ers offense, notching his sixth 100-plus yard rushing game while also earning his sixth-total touchdown of the season. With much on the line for the 49ers heading into the regular season finale, the running back will look to carry his momentum against a tough Los Angeles Rams run defense that currently ranks sixth in the NFL in yards allowed to opposing ball carriers.