The 49ers list of available running backs looks a bit different than it did just a week ago.
With Elijah Mitchell now on the Injured Reserve list due to an MCL sprain, it's Jeff Wilson Jr. at the top of the depth chart. Sitting behind him is undrafted rookie free agent Jordan Mason and third-round draft pick Tyrion Davis-Price.
"Jeff is such a good football player," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Anything that we ask him to he does, whether it's playing our third-down back, playing the fullback role when our wideouts have the ball, in the pass game or in the run game. He's been a starter for us and Jeff, he's just a very reliable guy. When Jeff's healthy and able to stay fresh, he can play at a high level and he's one of the guys that we trust as much as anyone around here."
Wilson Jr. was injured at the start of last year and then played in the final nine games of the regular season, racking up 294 yards and two touchdowns on 79 carries and made two appearances in the 49ers playoff run. The fifth-year running back understands the task at hand with Mitchell projected to be out for eight weeks and has emphasized the moment at hand to the rookie running backs.
"You've really got to be on it because it's any given Sunday, anything can happen," Wilson Jr. said. "This is one of the most intense games you can probably play, and there are guys that are doing it at a high level so there's a lot of stuff that can go on. You always have to be ready."
Mason and Davis-Price did not take snaps in last Sunday's contest, but it's unlikely that will be the case this week for the home opener versus the Seattle Seahawks. The duo showed a lot of promise in the preseason, leading the team in rushing yards in San Francisco's second preseason game versus the Minnesota Vikings. Mason average 6.2 yards per carry in that game, and Davis-Price ripped off a 14-yard run. With the shift in personnel, this may be the week both are unleashed.
"With injuries, they're going to have more opportunities to get some carries, but they have to grow up and get this experience while on the run," Shanahan said. "A lot more pressure will be on those guys, and we're going to have to pick it up as a group to help them out."
Wilson Jr. is eager to see these two dynamic and physical runners in action.
"You have to just absolutely not love football if you're watching them run the ball and don't get excited," Wilson Jr. said. "That's what they bring to the table, and that's what they're going to continue to bring to the table. I just can't wait to see those guys continue to flourish and become their own."
San Francisco will also turn to wide receiver Deebo Samuel for continued reinforcement in the ground game in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk. No. 19 accounted for nearly a third of the 49ers total rushing yards against the Chicago Bears and his rushing touchdown was the lone TD of the game.
To further bolster the depth of the group, the team also added former Indianapolis Colts 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack to the practice squad for depth earlier in the week.
Notes from Thursday's Practice:
As was the case on Wednesday, tight end George Kittle (groin) and offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill (hamstring) did not practice. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw (elbow) was limited and limited and wore a non-contact jersey during the open portion of practice. Left tackle Trent Williams returned to the SAP Performance Facility after taking a veteran rest day on Wednesday.