The running back position for the San Francisco 49ers has been in flux during Kyle Shanahan’s tenure. This past season was a great example, as Raheem Mostert ran for over 200 yards in a playoff game, while Jeff Wilson was the first running back to have a target in the Super Bowl. If you can play, you’ll be on the field. Both of those players were undrafted. If you look at the running backs that were active for most of the season on the Niners, all of their 40-times are sub 4.4. Matt Breida has the fastest speed in the NFL during the last two seasons. Shanahan has made it no secret that he prefers speed at the running back position.
It’s been quiet on the 49ers from as far as meeting up with prospects goes. There have been three wide receivers, and that’s it—until this weekend. The 49ers met with running back Darrynton Evans from Appalachian State. Unsurprisingly, Evans tested well at the NFL Combine. Evans had the second-fastest 40-yard dash time, at 4.41 seconds. He was tied for ninth in the bench press, with 20 reps of 225 pounds. Evans jumped 37” in the vertical, which was good for 10th overall. He was tied for fifth in the broad jump at 10’5”. All of those numbers are comfortably above average. That also tells you that Evans is an explosive athlete. Evans did not participate in any of the shuttle drills.
Evans is 5-foot-10, 203 pounds. He is Sports Info Solutions’ 14th ranked running back in the draft. Per their rookie handbook, here are Evans strengths: Speed, passing game versatility, home run threat. His weaknesses: Power, yards after contact, running between the tackles. SIS’s one-liner and last word on Evans:
Evans has the speed and open field acceleration to be a threat at the next level, but his lack of power and limited skills in the box could keep him from a full-time starting role.
Evans projects as a potential third-down difference maker and a first-team role player in an outside running scheme at the next level. He’ll need to improve his pass protection, and his one-cut running style is somewhat scheme-specific, but his speed and receiving abilities are strong traits. He is also a good kickoff returner and should compete for such a role right away.
If you can find a scouting report that better fits the 49ers scheme and what they need, I’m all ears. Evans is likely to be a late-round draft pick, and the Niners are just doing their homework. It would be surprising to see San Francisco use a draft pick on a running back. As an undrafted free agent, Evans would be an intriguing option that would give the 49ers a true receiving threat out of the backfield.
My friend Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan, who is a fantastic evaluator of the running back position, had this to say:
“Evans is a good pick-and-slide runner, who has a knack for making the first guy miss. His very subtle in that regard, as it’s usually a quick cut left/right, that stymies the defender. He’s also a solid threat as a receiver, who could also contribute on special teams.”
Check out his season highlights:
Evans averaged six yards a carry during his college career and ran for 1480 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019. He also had 21 receptions for 198 yards and five touchdowns. These are the type of players that make sense to add to the roster as opposed to spending valuable money on running backs in free agency.