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49ers rookie Trey Sermon gearing up for a heavier workload on special teams

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

49ers running back Trey Sermon received his first regular-season carry in Sunday’s 17-11 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. While the former third-round pick earned a first down on an eight-yard carry, he was immediately forced out of the game after an illegal hit put him in the league’s concussion protocol.

Sermon has progressed well this week and has a chance to return to the field on Sunday. A healthy inactive in the 49ers' first game of the season, Sermon now has a far clearer path to a significant role with the team after several of the team’s other backs have gone down with injuries of their own. That could lead him to a different path to the field than expected.

In his weekly press conference, 49ers special teams coordinator Richard Hightower was asked if Sermon could take on a larger role on special teams. Hightower definitively said that he is prepared to utilize Sermon more on special teams. Sermon played on one special team’s snap in Week 2 before leaving the game with an injury.

“Yeah, he [Trey Sermon] is. He always gets work. He works every week. Last week in the game, he did a really nice job on the kickoff coverage. You won’t notice it because Cannon made the play at the 20, the tackle inside of 20, and a fourth-quarter with 10 minutes left. But TreySermon had a heck of a button press on that play. Played real physical, shed his guy, and got to the ball. So that was a positive play for him. And Trey is coming along, excited about Trey.”

The 49ers likely envisioned Sermon taking on a more prominent role in the team’s offense when they drafted him earlier this year. However, the emergence of rookie sixth-round pick Elijah Mitchell has altered the team’s plans and pushed Sermon further down the depth chart. For now, that could force Sermon to take on a more specialized role with the team.