One of the things to look forward to on the San Francisco 49ers’ Saturday preseason game was the running back competition. With both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida out due to injuries/precautions, the doors were opened for Joe Williams and Jeremy McNichols. The 49ers signed Alfred Morris last week, but he was still getting familiar with the playbook. This left Williams and McNichols a chance to play with the first stringers. May the best man win.
Well, there wasn’t really a best man at all. McNichols began things but barely passed the line of scrimmage in the first series. In his snaps for the second series he got some yardage, but nothing to write home about. Joe Williams on the other hand struggled mightily as well. He went to play with the second string as well and still couldn’t amount to much.
McNichols finished with 10 carries for 28 yards. Good enough for an average of 2.8 yards per carry. Williams finished with eight carries for 18 yards, 2.25 yards per carry. The longest run for both was six yards.
Well, that’s not going to separate either of them.
The 49ers have two preseason games to go and if this game is any indication, neither McNichols or Williams have been able to differentiate themselves on the roster. Alfred Morris may see some playing time in Week 3 and if he can do better than either of them, he may fly in for a roster spot.
Raheem Mostert, the 49ers third running back in 2017, didn’t play any snaps at the position, though he was used on special teams. Mostert has been seen as a special teams gunner first and a running back second, but it would remain to be seen how the coaching staff sees Mostert working out. If the 49ers are only getting under three yards a carry from Williams and McNichols, Mostert may deserve a long look as well.