Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s outside zone scheme had the Niners rush for 144.1 yards per game as a team last season, second in the NFL to only the Baltimore Ravens. San Francisco went with a running back by committee look last season, with Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson Jr. splitting carries. The 49ers are hoping Jerick McKinnon can contribute as a pass-catching back in 2020, but it remains to be seen how he will respond after missing the past two seasons with knee issues.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked the league’s best backfield duos going into 2020 using a mix of PFF grades and Football Outsiders Analytics, and had the combination of Mostert and Coleman ranked No. 12.
Mostert and Coleman each had 137 carries last season, but the former had better rushing stats overall. Mostert finished 2019 with 772 yards, eight touchdowns, and ranked second in the NFL averaging 5.6 yards per rushing attempt.
Coleman finished the season with 544 yards and six scores. The 27-year-old kicked off the season as the lead-back, but fell behind Mostert in the pecking order in the second half of the season.
Mostert and Coleman combined to averaged 87.2 yards per game, but their stats take a hit because of Shanahan’s scheme, which sees receivers and tight ends get rushing attempts at times as well. The fact that running backs are disposable as paper cups in Shanny’s system likely means the team won’t be in the running for a top-back in free agency anytime soon.
As Kyle wrote about, Mostert was a beast with eight defenders in the box in 2019. His performance against the Packers where he finished with 29 carries for 220 yards and four touchdowns was masterful.
Mostert should start the year off as the No. 1 option, but as we know, expect the unexpected with Shanahan when it comes to the run game.
Overall, San Francisco’s running game ranks second in the league to me. I only put the Ravens ahead of them because of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s ridiculous rushing ability.
How do you feel about Miller’s list? Where would you rank the duo among NFL backfields?
On to some more links:
Brady or Joe Montata? NBC Bay Area’s Schrock makes the case for the former Patriot surpassing Montana as the GOAT.
Tom Rathman is a 49er for life. The two-time Super Bowl champion is sick of hearing the haters diminish former Niner Frank Gore’s case for the Hall of Fame. (h/t Heavy.com’s Evan Reier)
Does Jimmy G’s contract have an impact on the 49ers Super Bowl chances? NBC Bay Area’s Brian Witt says history indicates it does.
Which NFL team has the best chance to be the next great dynasty? NFL.com’s Adam Schein has the 49ers high up in his rankings.