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49ers 90-in-90: RB Matt Breida

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is running back Matt Breida.

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The 49ers hit undrafted gold in 2017 with Matt Breida. The top athlete in 2017’s running back class brought solid college production to a talent-starved group of running backs. While at Georgia Southern, Breida the Cheetah’s breakaway percentage was second to Dalvin Cook, and he averaged as many yards after contact as Leonard Fournette.

Throughout the season Breida was the more efficient back despite playing just 28 percent of the offensive snaps. Breida ended the year as the team leader in rushing yards per carry (4.4), PFF overall grade (73.1), and DVOA (5th overall). His defense-adjusted yards above replacement rank (15th) was higher than Carlos Hyde’s even though Breida was technically the replacement.

Much of Breida’s success had to do with his fit in the Shanahan offense. Breida excelled at reading outside zone blocks, the preferred run of the Shanahan clan. Through week 12, Breida averaged 3.3 yards before contact, and over 5 yards per carry, on outside zone runs.

Basic Info

Age: 23
Experience: 1 accrued season
Height: 5’09”
Weight: 195 pounds

Cap Status

Breida signed a 3-year deal as a UDFA in 2017. His overall deal is worth just 1.67 million, and he received $30,000 guaranteed. In other words, he’s an absolute steal.

Why he might improve in 2018

The 49ers will field a revamped offensive line in 2018 that could provide dividends for Breida. First-round pick Mike McGlinchey is an upgrade over Trent Brown on the demanding outside zone blocks Kyle Shanahan’s scheme demands. The interior of the line will also be improved with a new center and at least one new starting guard. With a credible threat at quarterback plus (hopefully) more opportunities to close the game out with a lead and Breida could easily surpass his 465 rushing total from 2017.

Why he might regress in 2018

Snap count is really the only limiter to Breida repeating his 2017 performance. In 2016, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had a 60/40 snap split, respectively. If we presume Jerick McKinnon will see the 60 percent, then that leaves about 40 percent of snaps to be divvied up between Breida and whomever wins the third running back spot. If that third back ends up being Joe Williams, Breida could see a net reduction in snaps to a player the team thought was worth a fourth round pick.

Odds of making the roster

The Matt Breida train will steam right into 2018 firmly entrenched as the number 2 back in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.