Aesthetically speaking, there aren’t many things more enjoyable about the 49ers than watching Jordan Mason bowl over defenders and run through arm tackles en route to a six yard gain.
Like most undrafted free agents, Mason needed some help from those in front of him, so he could be afforded the opportunity for regular season carries.
It took an Elijah Mitchell and Tyrion Davis-Price injury, but Mason wound up with 45 carries as a rookie and turned that into six yards a pop, including ten of those going for at least ten yards with over four yards coming after contact per attempt.
One can only wonder how productive Mason would have been if it weren’t for coming in when the game was decided and all 11 defenders on defense knowing he’d carry the ball.
The Athletic predicted the breakout player for each team ahead of training camp. Matt Barrows believes it’s Mason for the 49ers:
RB Jordan Mason
Receiver Brandon Aiyuk and cornerback Charvarius Ward, who are already appreciated in the Bay Area, seem poised for more widespread prominence. But the true breakout candidate is Mason, who looked sharp during spring practices. He will enter training camp as the team’s No. 3 running back. However, the player just ahead of him on the depth chart, Elijah Mitchell, has become known for injuries as much as hard running. Mitchell, in fact, missed part of the spring session with a minor issue. If that trend continues, Mason, who looks more comfortable and confident in his second season, will have an opportunity to make his mark. — Matt Barrows
Another trend to keep an eye on is how Mason performs in the passing game. Is he comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield? Can the coaching staff trust him in pass protection?
Last year, head coach Kyle Shanahan said he felt like the offense was too predictable with Mason in, which is why he didn’t play more meaningful snaps earlier in the game. Mason has reportedly worked hard this offseason at catching passes and improving in the passing game. If he can, Mason should find plenty of playing time during his second season as a Niner.