49ers Free Agency Preview: Running Back Needs More Depth
With the Super Bowl having passed it is now officially the offseason in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers are in win-now mode and will be doing everything they can to finally get over the top and become champions. This will require the team to be savvy in free agency to fill the holes on their roster and make upgrades where they deem necessary. Over the next couple of weeks I will be breaking down each position group on the 49ers and potential targets the team could have in free agency. Today we will be going over the running back position, an area of the team that has been productive but plagued by injuries over the last several years.
The 49ers go into next season with two running backs under contract. Rookie stand-out Elijah Mitchell is one of the returning backs and will presumably be in line to be the team’s main back going into the season. Fellow rookie Trey Sermon is also under contract for next year and should hopefully see a larger role than he had this previous season. Additionally, JaMycal Hasty, who the team often deployed as a 3rd down back this last season is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) meaning that if the team offers him a contract no other team is allowed to sign him.
Unfortunately for Mostert, Injuries have limited him to just nine games and 104 carries over the last two years. Since 2019 Mostert has been one of the most effective running backs in the league, averaging 5.4 yards per carry in that span. If the 49ers could get Mostert back on a team-friendly deal, they should certainly look into bringing the veteran running back to The Bay. His game-breaking speed was something that was certainly missed in the offense this year. Adding Mostert into a rotation with Elijah Mitchell would create an absolutely lethal combo that would spell trouble for the rest of the NFL.
This would be an absolute dream come true for Kyle Shanahan. Patterson can line up at both running back and wide receiver, something that Shanahan would certainly love to take advantage of. Last season Patterson had over 600 rushing yards to go with over 500 receiving yards. Coming off of a career year, the price to bring Patterson onto the team may be higher than what the 49ers would hope to pay, but if the financials work out, he would certainly be an intriguing option to add to the team. Patterson would also provide the 49ers with an explosive option at kick returner, an area that the team will be looking to improve this offseason. Patterson’s versatility is unmatched in this year’s free agency class and he would make an incredible addition to an already exciting 49ers offense.
An intriguing player to bring in as a supplementary rotational back is former Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson. Jackson spent his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers and played under current 49ers’ assistant coach Anthony Lynn when he was the head coach of the Chargers. Jackson has only seen sparse playing time in his career as he has been a backup to Chargers Pro Bowl Running back Austin Ekeler, but he has been effective when he is on the field. For his career, Jackson is averaging 5.0 yards per carry on just north of 200 carries. Jackson has also shown an ability to impact the game in a pass-catching role out of the backfield, setting a new career-high in receiving yards this last season. The price tag for Jackson should be fairly low and the 49ers would be wise to look into adding the young running back to the roster.
Jeff Wilson is another potential option for the 49ers to resign this offseason. Wilson never looked completely healthy this season after returning from injury, but he has been a solid player for the 49ers in the past. More recovery time from his torn meniscus this past year could lead to a bounce-back year for Wilson. Wayne Gallman is another guy the 49ers may give a look to. Gallman spent the preseason with the 49ers but was ultimately cut when the rosters trimmed down to the final 53. Marlon Mack is someone that the 49ers reportedly had an interest in at the trade deadline. Mack is two years removed from a 1000 yard rushing season. Since then a torn achilles has put a damper on his career, but he could be a good buy-low candidate.