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Is Matt Breida’s time up with the 49ers?

Breida is a restricted free agent

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers brought back five exclusive rights free agents on Thursday, locking up some much-needed quality depth for 2020. The team still has a few restricted free agents that they need to decide on the type of tender to place on each player. Matt Breida’s time with the Niners could be coming to an end. Breida has battled an ankle injury for the better part of two seasons. When Breida has been on the field, he’s been effective. He was the leading rusher in 2018 and rushed over 100 yards twice early in the year in 2019. An ankle injury and a couple of fumbles all but phased Breida out of the 49ers offense. It got to the point where Jeff Wilson was getting more playing time than Breida, as we saw in the Super Bowl. As a restricted free agent, the 49ers have a tough decision to make.

NBC Sport’s Matt Maiocco wrote a reason to bring Breida back, and a reason that he won’t return. Here is part of Maiocco’s answer for the reason Breida won’t be on the 49ers in 2020:

The low tender is $2.144 million for one year. If another team signs him to an offer sheet and the 49ers decline to match, they will receive no compensation. The only way the 49ers would receive compensation is if they extend a qualifying offer of $3.278 million (second-round pick) or $4.667 million (first-round pick).

The 49ers already have Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Jeff Wilson under contract. They are pursuing the possibility of bringing back Jerick McKinnon on a low-level contract after he missed the past two seasons with knee issues.

The 49ers might decide to let Breida walk and earmark his spot on the depth chart for a younger, third-down running back who is a more polished route-runner.

Raheem Mostert should be the team’s “bell cow” in 2020. He showed it in Week 1, and that continued in each game. If the 49ers move on from Tevin Coleman and decide to bring back Jerick McKinnon, there isn’t a spot for Breida. You know Kyle Shanahan is itching to use McKinnon in the passing game. That’s an area where Breida has improved, but he’s still not the receiver needed to really open up this offense.

Paying over $2.1 million for your fourth-string running back, or even third-string is too much money. The 49ers don’t have that type of salary cap space to get away paying Breida, even if it is only a couple of million. That is the difference between bringing back Emmanuel Sanders, for example. If a team offers Breida, he’s likely gone. If there is no market, and they’d like to bring Breida back, the 49ers could sign Breida for a minimum contract if he’s willing. This is one of many decisions that the team is working on.