The San Francisco 49ers signed versatile running back Tevin Coleman to a two-year deal. How does this trade fit with their plans?
For the second offseason in a row, the San Francisco 49ers spent some money to get a running back to pair with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Last season, their signing flamed out about as quickly as possible when Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL on September 1st, before ever playing a regular season game for the 49ers.
This move has some fans asking questions, since the 49ers do have McKinnon and Matt Breida in the fold. That’s a lot of decent running backs in the same room. Last season, injuries really hit the 49ers, but especially at that position. Coleman is the kind of player that fills a role, so he can work around Breida or McKinnon, whoever gets the main role.
Coleman was great paired with DeVonta Freeman. He changes the pace, and confuses defenses. He’s good for 3-4 catches per game, and 10-15 rushes. He can do a lot with those limited touches.
Coleman’s contract looks like a deal as it’s played out. The 49ers only had to give him a two-year deal worth $10 million total. Analysts thought he would be able to get more thanks to his versatility from a team like the Philadelphia Eagles, but he decided it was best to take this deal with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers.
The reaction comes in two fazes; one questioning why San Francisco added another running back and another surprised they were able to get Coleman for this kind of deal.
Now this is an interesting stat. Chris Biderman with the Sacramento Bee points out that Coleman would not only lead the 49ers in rushing touchdowns, but he would have been tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns if he was on the team last season.
Also one note, Steven Ruiz with For The Win points out that Coleman will once again play with Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator when he entered the league. It could be one reason the 49ers were able to get him at that price.
The injuries piled up for the 49ers last season. Coleman missed one game in the past two seasons, and didn’t miss one all of last year. He’s elusive, which helps him avoid big hits. The 49ers just needed consistency at the position, on top of his ability to fit with other running backs.
Tevin Coleman is a great signing for the 49ers. Whether this means they are moving on from Breida or McKinnon, or keeping all three, this is the position most NFL teams want to be in. A running back by committee is key to competing in today’s NFL.
Look at the last four teams to make the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots ran out Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead and Cordarrelle Patterson behind Tom Brady. The Rams went in with a surging C.J. Anderson and one of the best in the league Todd Gurley. The year before, you had the Patriots again, only with Dion Lewis instead of Michel. The champion Philadelphia Eagles had LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.
Obviously, the quarterback is key to winning games in today’s NFL, but a deep stash of running backs can take so much off the QBs shoulders that it can lead to winning. That’s why this move gets such a good grade.