How Jordan Mason impressed Kyle Shanahan

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.

This article has 20 Comments

  1. Jack
    I’ve been a proponent for Mason getting an opportunity since pre season. But as KS said, “I’d like to keep our veterans out there holding on to the ball.”
    With Ellijah Mitchell and Christian McCaffrey both sidelined with knee ailments. This Sunday, Mason should get his chance to pound the rock and show KS (and 9er fans), what he can do…..

    1. I was a mason supporter from OTA’s and Camp on. Kyle has a way of finding effective undrafted players. Mason is one of those. Price and Mason will need to carry the day..maybe along with Coleman.

  2. I think the two biggest questions about Mason are, Pass catching ( a huge part of 49ers RB’s responsibility) and Blitz pickup. Hopefully he can hold his own in those areas. TDP is also going to have to shine.

    1. OC
      * I agree with you on Blitz pickup! But If Mason can keep the chains moving and pick up 1st downs, (especially in the red zone), I’m not that concerned with his pass catching. That’s just icing on the cake.
      * Same with TDP.

  3. Turnovers and penalties…the two bugaboos for the Niners this season…hold on to the ball and make smart decisions throwing the ball, for the aggressive on defense..TACKLE, don’t just run into the ball carrier and expect him to hit the ground..good coverage by the DB’s, while looking for the ball when it’s in the air (no cheap PI’s) is a must…the O line needs to take the wood to Miami’s front early in the game, and set the tempo….just play good sound football…

    1. 55 Niner
      The top 5 teams are between +4 and 13, Only the Eagles are way ahead at 13. The next 12 teams
      (including the 9 ers) are within a turnover or two of each other. If you are an Eagles fan, the turnovers are great, but I’d be a bit concerned their record is a bit dependent on getting them.
      P.S. I love this Mason kid, 233 lbs and hits the line like a Mac Truck

  4. Good writeup. I like Mason. He has a more physical style which I like. Good compliment to CMC.

    Just a suggestion for the blog. Might be good to have a link to the schedule with results and links to box scores for games already played. I was just looking at the past 4 games and how great the defense has played. But when you look at those 4 games it was Rams (who are struggling mightily), Chargers (without Keenan Allen or Mike Williams), Cardinals (with Colt McCoy at QB), and the Saints (who have been seriously inconsistent on offense). The last great offense the 49ers played was the Chiefs who put up 44 on the 49ers and could have scored at will it seemed. This Dolphins game is truly a benchmark game to see where the 49ers really are in their evolution this year. Even with their O-line injuries, the Dolphins are a top 5 offense in the NFL. If the 49ers are going to win a game in the playoffs, they need to be able to beat teams like the Dolphins. It would be cool if you had a picture of the schedule and results viewable from the blog.

    1. Pat,
      Miami isn’t just a top 5 O they are either #1 or #2 depending on which measurement you use. This Sun. is the test of whether this 9er team is either a SB contender or a team that has padded their record by beating the weak sisters of the NFL. I don’t have much confidence going into this week. I think they may be a little more of the latter than the former.

      1. OC, there are times when I agree about it being more of the latter. The Rams record speaks for itself, and I think the Arizona score was due more to their defense succumbing to the altitude. And let’s not forget the Falcons having their way with us. But it remains true that on offense we are “loaded.” What do you think would make the offense dominant? Oline? QB? Head coach?

        1. George,
          OL and red zone play calling. I have no problem with KS between the 20’s but his red zone calls leave something to be desired. Also the O line doesn’t seem to get the same push in the RZ.

      2. gotta agree with the old coach. Miami looks to be better coached and better skilled at the key QB position. We will know more Sunday night.

  5. On Mason, below is a link to a youtube video of his five runs to close out the Saints. Imo it’s a treat at .25 speed. (For those who’ve never done that, click on the settings wheel on the bottom right, then click on “playback speed” and click on 0.25.) You can see him spotting holes very quickly. When one hole closes, he’s off to another. He almost broke out a couple of times.

  6. Jack,
    Thanks for your work.
    Do you have any recent updates on Jimmy G?
    You said on your podcast that JG was not throwing yesterday in practice. I know that he took a cheap shot on his knee, but is he also experiencing an issue with his throwing motion?
    Thank you

    1. AES,
      Bad footwork (possibly caused by pain) can lead to issues with your throwing mechanics.

      1. Thanks Coach,
        I guess what I really wanted to know was if there was any report from from 49ers camp today.

    2. Thank you, AES. I think they were taking it easy on the knee by not having him need to push off or twist. He was better today.

  7. Jack
    * I am looking forward to Bosa having a big day against Miami. LT Terron Armstead is out with a pectoral injury and he’ll be replaced by Brandon Shell.
    * In 58 pass blocking snaps at LT this year, Shell has allowed 12 pressures, 8 hurries and 4 QB hits.
    * Shells overall pass blocking grade this year is 43.2 (60.0 is average), and in 2 stints at LT he’s posted pass blocking grades of 15.2 and 15.5 (that’s bad for Tua, but good for Bosa).
    * Bosa is tied for the NFL lead with 55 pressures, and 11.5 sacks after posting at least 1.0 in 5 consecutive games.
    Bosa could collect 2 (or more) sacks and several hurries and lead 9er INT’s.

    * Right tackle, Austin Jackson will likely be out with an ankle injury and he’ll be replaced by Greg Little.
    Little replacing Jackson will be good for the 9ers and Ebukam, but bad for Tua and Miami offense.

    * Miami is currently a four-point underdog for this game. They’re also underdogs on the money line, as their victory is set at +170. The over/under for the contest is 46.5 points.
    * 9ers 24 Miami 17

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