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49ers need to figure out their third string running back situation

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With Raheem Mostert done for the year, the team will either promote a practice squad back, or maybe sign a free agent.

The San Francisco 49ers lost running back Raheem Mostert to a fractured forearm this past week, and have a decision to make for Week 10. Matt Breida, Alfred Morris, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk will get the bulk of the work next Monday against the New York Giants, but the team will likely add a third running back.

The 49ers currently have Jeff Wilson and Matt Dayes on the practice squad. The 49ers signed Wilson as a UDFA this past May, and he has been on the practice squad all season long. They signed Matt Dayes to the practice squad in early October.

Last Friday, head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked if it would be a competition in practice this week to see which of the two running backs might be elevated.

“Yeah. We haven’t decided yet. I know we have two good options on the practice squad. We possibly could bring in some more guys to work out. We’ve got some extra days with the Thursday night game, so we’ve got a few days to decide on that.”

The 49ers might have taken a look at some running backs the past few days, but they have an interesting new option they might consider. The Detroit Lions waived running back Ameer Abdullah on Tuesday to make room for wide receiver Bruce Ellington. Abdullah was inactive this past week, and has been on the outs for a while. There were thoughts he might get cut at the end of training camp, but he hung around through the first half of the season.

Abdullah has struggled to stay healthy, but when healthy has been a decent weapon at times. As a rookie in 2015, he averaged 4.2 yards per carry and had 25 receptions. Football Outsiders ranked him 37th in DYAR and DVOA as a rusher, and 40th in both categories as a pass-catching back. He spent most of 2016 on injured reserve, and then averaged 3.3 yards per carry and had another 25 receptions in 2017. FO ranked him 36th in DYAR and 37th in DVOA as a rusher, and 32nd and 30th in those two categories as a pass-catcher. He was active for three games this season in Detroit.

The 49ers hold the third spot in waiver priority, which means they would have a decent crack at Abdullah. He’s never emerged as the kind of talent people thought he was, but there is some potential evaluative value to be had. Abdullah is in the final year of his rookie contract. If the 49ers elected to claim him, they would owe him roughly $438,372 for the final half of the season. It’s not a whole lot of much if the 49ers want to see what he can do.

At the same time, they might want to take a look at Wilson and Dayes to see what they have heading into the 2019 offseason. Realistically, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert all could be in the running back depth chart next summer. Considering how good Mostert has looked after seeming like nothing more than a strong special teams player, Kyle Shanahan and Bobby Turner could probably do some things with Abdullah. I guess we’ll see in 24 hours if they want to figure out what they have in their current group, or bring in some additional talent.