Time will tell if the San Francisco 49ers have the best backfield in the NFL. Each of Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Breida still have to carve out their role. The latter spoke to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle about how each would be used in Kyle Shanahan’s offense this upcoming season:
“They’ve talked to us about it. They’ve said, ‘Hey, we’re going to use all you guys,’” Breida said. “… All three of us are going to be used a lot. I don’t want to give away any secrets, but we’re all going to be used in the offense.”
Breida was one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL last year. He had 27 runs go for 10-plus yards. He did that in 153 attempts. Only nine players had more 10-plus gains. Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry had 28 runs go for 10 or more yards. He did it on 192 carries. That’s the closest discrepancy in carries.
Fans still don’t seem to be fully on board with crowning Breida. Injuries seem to be why. That is another topic Breida addressed.
“It’s just one of those things — are you going to play or not?” Brieda said. “Depending on the player, some guys would sit out. It’s totally up to you. But I felt like I wanted to be out there. I wanted to win. I wanted to be with my teammates. I still had my burst,” Breida said, “but I wasn’t able to make every cut. There were cuts I could make and then it was, ‘OK, it’s time to try to run somebody over. Try to do this a little differently.’ You just compensate and do the best you can with what you’ve got.”
Breida mentioned that his straight-line speed wasn’t affected. After all, he was clocked at 22.09 mph in November on a 33-yard run against the Buccaneers, which was the fastest of any ballcarrier over the past two seasons, according to Next Gen Stats. Being able to move laterally and his overall effectiveness is what hampered Breida.
I can picture this season where one-week Breida has a big game, the next week Coleman, and then McKinnon. Having options is far from a bad thing. Whoever presents the best matchup will get the ball, and there’s nothing wrong with that.