The 49ers have played just one game and are already without two key running backs.
Jerick McKinnon is lost for the entire season, again, due to complications with his knee that didn’t even allow him to see the field in the preseason. Now his replacement, recently signed former Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, is likely out for a few weeks with a high ankle sprain sustained on the first play of Sunday’s opener.
The 49ers head into Week 2 with three running backs, all of which were interestingly undrafted: Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., who is expected to be promoted from the practice squad. All three have shown to be productive with limited opportunities throughout their brief NFL careers, with Breida even looking like a Pro Bowl caliber runner at times (5.3 yards per carry) during his injury plagued 2018 season.
Now John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan must decide if they are comfortable heading into the next few weeks with that crew, or if it’s time to seriously kick the tires on some outside options, like currently holding out Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.
According to Matt Barrows of The Athletic, don’t expect the 49ers to make a splash anytime soon.
“Yeah, I don’t see that happening,” Barrows told Murph & Mac about the prospect of SF acquiring Gordon. “I mean, everybody sort of lamented their early bye, their Week 4 bye, when the schedule came out. Now it seems like that bye is going to come in at nice time because it’s going to allow you to get Trent Taylor back perhaps, Jalen Hurd back, and maybe even Tevin Coleman back depending on the severity of that high ankle sprain.
“So, I would think that the 49ers will be able to kind of wait it through with that group that you just mentioned: Mostert, Breida and bring Jeff Wilson up for these next two games. Then you get an extra week with the bye and then you see where Tevin Coleman is.
“The issue with Melvin Gordon is a he wants a huge contract, you just paid a huge contract to Jerick McKinnon and you paid a little bit of a contract to Tevin Coleman and you’d have to give the Chargers draft picks in order to get him. Sort of a double whammy, a double cost, that I don’t think a team that usually spends all that much on on running backs is willing to do.”
Shanahan has shown an ability throughout his career to get the most out of the running back position regardless of the perceived talent, making Gordon perhaps even less valuable to the 49ers. Still, Gordon is one of the best multi-purpose backs in the league gaining at least 1375 all-purpose yards in each of the last three seasons, making the Pro Bowl in 2016 and 2018.
The 49ers already have nearly $12 million allocated to the RB position in 2019, and Gordon, who is currently due just over $5 million this season, is expected to be looking for a contract worth upwards of $12 million per year.
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Barrows on Gordon, start from 7:30.