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49ers WR Trent Sherfield posted elite sprint speed in the preseason opener

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

49ers wide receiver Trent Sherfield has quickly made a case for becoming a prominent player in the team’s offense. A primary special teams player for most of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, Sherfield has been making a case all preseason that he can be a viable deep threat in the 49ers offense.

After a big preseason opener, Sherfield’s speed showed up on the Next Gen Stats leaderboard, where he recorded the fifth-fastest sprint speed (20.17 mph) of anyone in the NFL last week.

Sherfield’s speed clocked in less than .25 miles per hour behind Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields and New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson, while Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins and Denver Broncos receiver K.J. Hamler each posted speeds greater than 21 mph.

Regardless of the Next Gen Stats, Sherfield clearly improved his stock in Saturday’s preseason opener. In the highlight of the game, he caught the first unofficial touchdown of Trey Lance’s career on an 80-yard bomb. While Lance’s throw across the field was obviously the biggest part of the play, Sherfield showed in a game what he’s done throughout training camp: get open for big plays downfield.

Signed to be a key contributor on special teams, Sherfield might be forcing the 49ers to reconsider that plan. Given how the 49ers handled Raheem Mostert a couple of seasons ago, though, when his contributions on special teams made the coaching staff hesitant to make him the primary running back, it would not be surprising to see Sherfield in a similar limbo this season.

Still, in a wide receiver room filled with recent 49ers draft picks, Sherfield has seemingly already ensured himself a spot on the Week 1 roster.