Elijah Mitchell vs. Jeff Wilson vs. JaMycal Hasty: Wilson’s Return Doesn't Affect Rookie’s Workload

Jef Wilson Jr. returned to action this week but didn't see a single snap for the 49ers.
Jef Wilson Jr. returned to action this week but didn't see a single snap for the 49ers. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson returned to practice this week, many expected his impact to be felt immediately. Wilson was coming off a torn meniscus back in may and joined a young, but talented, backfield. Rookie Elijah Mitchell along with sophomore JaMycal Hasty had things pretty well covered in Wilson’s absences. It seems like the 49ers thought they had it covered enough that Wison didn’t even see the field in his return. 

Wilson was activated off the PUP list for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals but was not involved in the game plan whatsoever. It is surprising considering how successful Wilson was last season, chipping in 733 all-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns in 12 games. Seven on which he started. And despite a lot of names on the depth chart, there isn’t a whole lot of depth. 

Elijah Mitchell has been a godsend for this team sure but JaMycal Hasty is too untested to be relied upon as a solid RB2. Hasty saw his best game of the year Week 2 against the Eagles. He ran for 38 yards on five carries adn caught four passes for an additional 21 yards. His lone touchdown came in Week 1 against the Lions in his only attempt. It’s clear that even before Wilson’s return, Hasty was just there to fill a roster spot and give Mitchell a break. Trey Sermon was expected to contribute but has just 31 attempts for 135 yards this season and was a healthy scratch from last week’s game. 

To be fair, the 49ers were playing from behind all game and eventually lost 31-17 to the Cardinals. Mitchell led the team with 36 yards on eight carries and that was pretty much it. Garoppolo had one carry for three yards, Hasty had one for two and Aiyuk had one for a two yard loss. 

This week, the 49ers face off against the Los Angeles Rams and things could get out of control again.

It remains likely that Mitchell continues to lead the 49ers backfield while Wilson and Hasty fight for the remaining touches. With just 89 carries on the year from Mitchell, there aren’t a lot of touches to go around in San Francisco. I expect also that Wilson separates himself from Hasty and eventually challenges Mitchell for the starting role. While the rookie has been an exceptional surprise for the 49ers, Wilson saw a lot of success last season. For the short term at least, expect Mitchell to lead the way for the Niners' backfield. 

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