49ers strike gold late in the draft once again

All the excitement during training camp was centered on Trey Lance, however it has been another rookie that has stolen the show.

While the San Francisco 49ers have found mixed results at the top of the draft under John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, they’ve been very consistent in finding talent in the later rounds.

Players such as George Kittle, D.J. Jones, and Dre Greenlaw were drafted in round five or later.

In Elijah Mitchell, it appears the 49ers struck gold in the late rounds once again.

Mitchell currently ranks among the top running backs in the NFL with an average of 5.3 yards per rush attempt. According to offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, Mitchell has earned very high praise from veteran teammate Trent Williams.

“There was a play, it was probably the third run of the game in the first quarter, inside zone to the right. And it wasn’t blocked premierly so, he had to just get downhill, and he ran into Trent’s back,” McDaniel told reporters Thursday. “And Trent was like, ‘I haven’t been hit that hard by a running back since Adrian Peterson.’ So, there’s some stuff to his game that the more he plays, the more you realize that he’s a special young player and there’s a reason why he’s having productivity.”

Mitchell burst onto the scene in the opening week of the season. When veteran Raheem Mostert went down early it was up to Mitchell to carry the load, and he did, taking his third NFL carry 38 yards for a touchdown.

Even with that explosive start, the 49er’s coaching staff has noticed improvement in Mitchell’s play.

“You see it more on a play-in, play-out basis where there’s certain times where at the beginning of the season, he was a hair indecisive. He sees it, you coach him on it, and then you see each and every play, ‘okay. Incrementally, we’re getting more efficient and better.’ You’re seeing more explosive runs but also more yards per carry because each week he’s getting a little bit more decisive, which is a real thing,” said McDaniel. “The NFL game is a lot faster; the holes are smaller, and I know there’s a lot of plays that one of the reasons he’s having success is because he looks at his tape and says, ‘wow, I’ve left a lot of yards out there.’ That’s the way he looks at it. And with that approach, you can continue to get better and be more productive in tight areas and whatnot.”

Mitchell has been dealing with sore ribs during practice this week, but the 49ers expect him to be ready for Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals.

They could certainly use his rushing ability. The Arizona defense has allowed the second most yards per carry in the NFL so far this season. After giving Mitchell only 9 carries in their 17-10 loss to the Cardinals in week five, expect the 49ers to increase his workload this time around. Especially with J.J. Watt out due to a shoulder injury that may end his season.

This article has 10 Comments

  1. Yeah Mitchell has been good. He’s another in a long list of very good late round or FA RB finds for the Shanahan offense. Perhaps the real story are the players Shanahan finds in the o-line for the run game. Makes you wonder why Trey Sermon can’t produce in the same way as Mitchell. For the offense to really achieve full potential Shanahan needs to find a Center, RG, RT who can be excellent in run and pass blocking.

    1. On the one hand I don’t see how anyone can disagree with what you say here. On the other hand, we’re told that we don’t know enough to comment on how the geniuses run the team. Maybe having geniuses run the team is the problem! 🤷‍♂️

      1. Well it’s pretty obvious football fans think they know stuff but really they don’t know anything. Truly, the entire gambling industry should just close it’s doors to casual fans. Unethical to manipulate ignorant fans into placing bets on sports they don’t know anything about. We should just reach a point where Teri Garr’s words from Let it Ride applies to football… “Why do you have to bet on the horses? Why can’t you just enjoy watching them run around the track?”

    2. I believe that they have already filled one of those O line spots with Jaylon Moore, another late round selection. I think Hufanga and Lenoir are both going to work out. A late round pick from last year who many here were calling a bust is C. Woerner. He has been great lately Also i’m wondering if any one has noticed how Wishnowski has quietly become one of the best punters in football. Who ever is making the picks rounds 4-7 should be doing the whole draft. If JL and KS are making those picks let them continue doing that and bring in an asst GM to handle rounds 1-3. imho

      1. They definitely need to be thinking about a center because Mack isn’t getting any younger although he had a good game against Chicago. As for right guard they believe they already drafted that person but time will tell. Jaylon Moore has gotten off to a great start but I think it’s too early to anoint him.

      1. I tend to agree with this. When a guy thinks he’s a #1 but he’s really a #2 then that could spell trouble in the locker room. Also, my personal feeling is Aiyuk actually has more talent than Deebo but he needs to grow up a bit. I still feel like Aiyuk has #1 potential. I never felt that way about Dante Pettis. Adding OBJ and making Aiyuk scrap for playing time could really hamper his development. I mean it would almost signal that the 49ers have given up on Aiyuk. Yeah, 49ers should pass on OBJ.

    1. OBJ needs the deep ball. He can run crossing patterns all day but if he doesn’t get the home run ball he will complain.

      I’m not sure Jimmy is the right QB to be throwing him the deep ball. Normally it wouldn’t be a big issue except OBJ has been a cancer both places he has been and willingly throws the QB/Coaches under the bus.

      I’m not sure the the 49ers need this kind of distraction, especially if it involves the QB room given we already have some heightened sensitivity there.

  2. Another Nugget the 49ers have found is undrafted Azeez Al-Shaair. He’s been playing very well and looks like he has a future in the NFL.

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