Success often comes down to being prepared when an opportunity presents itself.
Such was the case for 49ers running back Jordan Mason on Sunday.
The undrafted rookie free agent made the roster after an impressive training and preseason. Mason has been active for all but one game this season, but his role was limited primarily to special teams duty.
When asked earlier this season why Mason was not getting onto the field San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan pointed to several reasons. Among them were the need to learn how to play better without the ball in their hands.
For Mason, opportunity came knocking late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 13-0 win over New Orleans.
With Ellijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey both sidelined with knee ailments, helping close out the win fell on the shoulders of the rookie.
According to Kyle Shanahan, he was “impressed” with how Mason looked running the ball.
“He moved the chains when it wasn’t always blocked to move the chains.”
Shanahan also offered a glimpse at why Mason’s opportunities had been limited in previous weeks.
“Putting him in there at the end of the game, when the game was still tight, there was six minutes left and it was a 13 point game,” said Shanahan.
“A guy who hasn’t been put in that much, I’d like to not put that pressure on him. I’d like to keep our veterans out there holding on to the ball. But our guys were a little banged up, so we put him in there. He held on to the ball great.”
After proving himself Mason may have strengthened his spot in the 49ers running back rotation.
San Francisco’s top two backs, Elijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey are both dealing with knee injuries.
Mitchell is unlikely to return before the end of the regular season, while McCaffrey’s knee irritation kept him out of practice on Wednesday.
If Sunday’s performance was any indication, Mason is ready for the opportunity.
Christian McCaffrey (knee), Elijah Mitchell (knee) and Charles Omenihu (knee) did not participate in practice on Wednesday.
Arik Armstead (foot/ankle) and Deebo Samuel (Quad) were limited participants.
Nick Bosa and Trent Williams were both on hand Wednesday. The two usually take a vet day on Wednesday. Their participation shows how important Sunday’s game against Miami is to the 49ers.