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Rookie report card: Should the 49ers start Trey Sermon or Elijah Mitchell this week?

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The 49ers — and not by choice — could be forced into playing their first-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see the second-rounder take a snap, while the player San Francisco traded up for in the third round took a promising step Sunday against the Seahawks.

Let’s take a look at the Niners’ rookie report card.

Trey Lance: C

Trey will be fine. For a player that was moonlighting as Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers, Jalen Hurts, and Russell Wilson; this past month — without practicing, ya know, his offense, Lance looked as you’d expect a rookie to look.

Lance avoided any turnover-worthy plays on 24 dropbacks, per PFF. That’s encouraging, as was his ability to find ways to make something out of nothing.

Lance needs to learn to rely on his teammates. He left plays on the field that turned into scrambles when a receiver down the field or a check down is open. You’ll never be mad at a quarterback for scoring on two drives. Once Lance learns the offense, I imagine we’ll see a much better product offensively.

Aaron Banks: DNP

For the fourth game in a row, Banks was a healthy scratch. Daniel Brunskill has been competent. There are plays from Brunskill that leave plenty to be desired. Perhaps after the 49ers bye week we’ll see more, or anything, out of Banks.

Trey Sermon: B-

Sermon was much more decisve against the Seahawks than he was against the Packers. There wasn’t any dancing behind the line of scrimmage. Once Sermon crosses the line, you can tell he has the itch to bounce it out wide instead of getting north and south.

Here’s a look at every carry:

The next step for Sermon is to start making defenders miss. Raheem Mostert outran angles and ran through tackles.

Sermon’s averaging 1.9 yards after contact and has forced five missed tackles, but most of those are happening behind the line of scrimmage.

Ambry Thomas: DNP

Thomas isn’t going to play defense anytime soon based on the current rotation at cornerback. Thomas could help as a kick returner.

He returned four kicks againist the Lions Week 1. Kyle Shanahan said he wanted to add competiton in the return game. You don’t want Deebo Samuel taking unesscary hits. Throw Thomas back there and see if he can break one.

Jaylon Moore: C

Moore played 22 snaps after Trent Williams left the game. For a Day 3 pick, Moore was fine. Sure, he was beaten around the edge a few times. San Francisco started using Kyle Juszczyk to chip Seattle’s edge defender to help protect Moore.

In an ideal world, Moore never plays another snap this season as that means Williams is on the field.

Deommodore Lenoir: DNP

The 49ers used Dontae Johnson in the slot over Lenoir. Johnson played 41% of the snaps. Lenoir has had a couple of coverage busts this season, but has held his own.

I wonder how much of Lenoir not playing was due to the matchup, or if he’s fallen out of grace because of those coverage busts. This week, against Arizona — a team that lives with four wide receivers on the field — should be telling if Lenoir doesn’t play. Rondale Moore versus Johnson or Lenoir?

Talanoa Hufanga: DNP

Hufanga didn’t play a defensive snap against Seattle. He’s been active on special teams as he’s played 87% of the snaps. Last week against the Packers, the 49ers used Hufanga as a single-hgih safety on three snaps. If he’s not playing, it’s a good thing as Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward are on the field.

Elijah Mitchell: DNP

Mitchell missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury. Shanahan said Mitchell would practice Wednesday without a blue non-contact jersey. Will Mitchell be RB1? That remains to be seen.

While Sermon has improved, the 49ers are missing Mostert’s home run speed more than anything. During the past two weeks, there have been holes where Mostert would run through and turn into an explosive play. That hasn’t happened with Sermon. Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mitchell has more touches than Sermon if healthy.