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49ers 90-in-90: What will Tevin Coleman’s role be in 2020?

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Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is RB Tevin Coleman

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

When the San Francisco 49ers signed Tevin Coleman last offseason, many of us figured the running back would be a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, much like he was during his time in Atlanta under Kyle Shanahan. Coleman finished the season with 21 receptions for 180 yards. The most disappointing part of those numbers is Coleman didn’t have a target over ten yards. In the last year with Kyle, Tevin had six targets over ten yards, including four over 20. Why? That’s a question I’d love to know the answer to.

Coleman was up and down as a runner in 2019. To be fair to him, the injuries to the offensive line early in the season caused Shanahan to shift philosophies from a predominant outside zone team to a power, man-blocking team. Coleman is at his best when he can “go,” and he doesn’t have to wait for blocks to develop. Cleveland and Minnesota were Coleman’s two best games, where the 49ers got Coleman to the edge, and he could outrun defenders.

Basic Info

Age: 27 ( turned 27 on April 16)

Experience: Five accrued seasons

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 210

Cap Status

Coleman is entering the final year of his two-year deal. His cap number for 2020 will be $4.8 million. If the 49er release Coleman, they’ll save $2.8 million and will have $2 million in dead money.

What to expect in 2020

As of today, Coleman is RB2. Coleman was the 49ers top option until Raheem Mostert stole the show week 13 against the Ravens. After that, Coleman never had more than five carries from Week’s 14-17. Then, when Mostert suffered a calf injury against the Vikings, Coleman looked like the player the Niners were hoping when they signed him in free agency.

A $4.5 million base salary for a backup running back is steep, especially since you prioritized Coleman over Matt Breida. Hopefully, Coleman’s role expands. That is if he’s on the roster.

Odds on making the roster

On April 20, Albert Breer reported that if Coleman can’t be moved, he may get cut before the team’s virtual offseason program. With no OTAs, Coleman remains on the roster. To me, training camp will tell the 49ers if Coleman is expendable or not. If McKinnon looks healthy and can hold up, and either JaMycal Hasty or Salvon Ahmed show they can handle some of the workload, Breer’s report could come true. Then again, Mostert was also banged up in the playoffs, and do you want to go into the season with Jeff Wilson as your most experienced backup? It’s a dilemma the Niners are facing. With so many question marks at the position, I’d expect Coleman to be on the roster.