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Shaun Draughn Enjoys Career Day in 49ers Debut

Nobody knew how the San Francisco 49ers would divide the carries between their three running backs against the Atlanta Falcons.

Not even Shaun Draughn, the man who did most of the heavy lifting out of the backfield on Sunday. Draughn had 20 total touches in the game which were nearly double the 11 combined carries that Kendall Gaskins and Pierre Thomas received.

"Coach (Jim) Tomsula walked up to me during pre-games like 'Oh, you're starting by the way,'" Draughn said postgame. "I was like 'OK, let's go.'"

The start turned into Draughn's finest day as a pro.

Draughn's 16 carries, 58 rushing yards, a long rush of 30 yards and 38 receiving yards, were all career highs. His four receptions tied his career best.

That's not bad for a running back on his eighth roster, having only been with the 49ers for less than a week entering the game. 

"I'm humbled, I'm grateful, just happy to be back working," Draughn said. "I'm happy to be out here with guys that love the game. We practiced hard all week. It's great to be back."

Draughn was most recently on the Cleveland Browns roster for the first six weeks of the season, primarily as a special teams player. Entering his 49ers debut, the running back only had two carries and two receptions this season.

Sure, Draughn's numbers against the Falcons weren't gaudy, but 49ers Faithful should take note that what he accomplished was no small feat. Draughn got tough yards and showed his versatility as a running back.

That's pretty impressive seeing how Draughn hadn't received double-digit touches since October of 2014. In fact, Sunday's game marked just the fourth time that the ball-carrier has received double-digit touches since entering the league in 2011.

"I'd been praying for this opportunity for so long," the 27-year-old running back said. "Eight teams, that doesn't happen often. Especially when you skip from team to team and then you come in one week and you're starting, that doesn't happen. I'm just thankful and humble for the opportunity that the coaches gave me."

Draughn showed plenty of juice, especially on his 30-yard burst in the second quarter. The running back collided with Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux at the line of scrimmage, broke the tackle and bounced outside to find open running room down San Francisco's sideline until he was pushed out of bounds at Atlanta's 15-yard line.

Three plays later, Blaine Gabbert found Garrett Celek for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

"It was a draw play," Draughn said. "The (offensive) line did a great job of executing the way it was drawn up. You don't really get the looks you want with certain plays but we got the look we wanted and they slammed it down. I tried to break a tackle and get in the open field and see what was out there."

Celek, who was responsible for both of the 49ers touchdowns on Sunday, was very impressed with one of his newest teammates.

"Man, he's fast," the tight end said of Draughn. "To come in and do what he did, that's extremely, extremely impressive."

How much work Draughn sees going forward will be a situation to monitor, and the progress of Pierre Garçon's foot will have an impact on his workload.

Regardless, Draughn certainly earned his role in the 49ers offense.

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