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Morning Report: Rookie Running Backs to Watch

Good Morning Faithful,

Here are the top 49ers headlines for Wednesday, June 30.

New and Notable

Which NFL Rookie Running Backs Will Thrive in 2021?

NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund used her analytic's model, factoring in play skill set and potential Year 1 fatigue, to highlight five rookie running backs who could provide the biggest returns in 2021. Along with first round picks Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Travis Etienne (Jacksonville Jaguars), second round selection Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos) and fourth rounder Michael Carter (New York Jets), Frelund identified Trey Sermon in her Top 5. Here's what she had to say about the 49ers incoming back:

"Next Gen Stats reveal regression on San Francisco's offensive line this past season, at least in the ground game. The 49ers averaged 4.1 expected yards per rush last season (21st), compared to 4.6 in 2019 (third). They also dropped to 15th in rushing yards per game in 2020 (118.6) after finishing second in 2019 (144.1). The Niners did have some injuries to the unit, and the offseason addition of center Alex Mack will help. The emphasis on the run game in this offensive architecture provides enough potential volume for Sermon, but Kyle Shanahan does like utilizing a committee backfield. Sermon ended up ranking second in the Big Ten last season with 870 rushing yards (trailing only Minnesota's Mohamed Ibrahim), thanks to a prolific three-game run down the stretch that saw him pile up 636 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Computer vision shows that Sermon's body control (measured in sustained speed when changing direction) was in the top 10 percent of backs in the past two drafts, which bodes well for his ability to be a useful weapon in Shanahan's arsenal."

Mark Your Calendars

After an offseason highlighted with the re-signing of Trent Williams and Kyle Juszczyk to contract extensions and selecting Trey Lance third-overall in the NFL Draft, the 49ers are excited to share exclusive updates on the team and the upcoming season at the 2021 State of the Franchise, presented by Incogmeato.

The only place to watch this annual event live is in the 49ers app. The live stream begins Wednesday, June 30 at 6PM PT.

Learn more at

In the Community

Azeez Al-Shaair joined 49ers staff to distribute meals from minority-owned caterers, weekly groceries and backpacks to over 1,000 Oakland families served by Alameda County Community Food Bank.

Quick Hits

According to Pro Football Focus, Robbie Gould made 90 percent of his field goals from 40-49 yards in 2020. That was tied for 12th in the NFL.


This week, Alex Smith visited the medical team at the Center For the Intrepid in San Antonio, spoke at their Omer Research Day and attended the graduation of the Residents from SAMMC Orthopaedic Surgery. Following his leg injury with the Washington Football Team, Smith received special permission from the military to receive medical consultation at the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art facility helping men and women wounded in combat. During his visit, Smith also presented a check from the proceeds of his Just Live line with Attitude Is Free®.

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