The 49ers could have used a another running back in 2018 after injuries depleted the roster, but it shouldn’t be a high priority in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The return of Jerick McKinnon and a healthy Matt Breida will be a nice one-two punch in 2019. Jeff Wilson also proved he can provide a nice change of pace with his powerful running style. If the three of them can stay healthy, the 49ers backfield has a lot of potential.
Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have done a great job finding undrafted free agent running backs. They have another opportunity to unearth a lesser known talent at the Senior Bowl.
There are six running backs attending the Senior Bowl, three on each team. Two of the top prospects entering the draft, however, will not be in Mobile even though they attended school at nearby Alabama. Joshua Jacobs is a junior and thus ineligible and senior Damien Harris is not attending.
Most of the running backs headed to Mobile have little experience as pass catchers. They will have a great opportunity to learn from coach Shanahan and his staff to show they are not one dimensional.
South team running backs
Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State, 5-11, 210
Players coming from smaller schools always have more to prove. Anderson’s final two college seasons were very productive, and he has shown he has the ability to be a receiving back as well. He has good size to him and his college stats show he is durable.
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Anderson finished his senior year with 124 carries for 924 yards giving him an average of 7.5 yards-per-carry. He racked up nine rushing touchdowns and three receiving.
As a junior, Anderson broke the 1,000-yard mark rushing for 1,216 yards on 234 carries. He recorded 12 touchdowns on the ground and three through receptions.
Anderson has also been a stand-out kick returner with an average of 26.2 yards per return over his college career.
Ryquell Armstead, Temple, 5-11, 215
Armstead had a very productive Senior season after a more modest junior year. He ran the ball 210 times for 1,098 yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught the ball eight times for 52 yards.
While Armstead played running back at Temple, he could transition to fullback in the NFL
L.J. Scott, Michigan State, 6-1, 226
Scott has the most to prove of the three backs. A nagging ankle injury kept him off the field for much of 2018 limiting him to 79 carries for 264 yards.
Scott was more productive as a junior carrying the ball 201 times for 898 yards and eight touchdowns.
North team running backs
Karan Higdon, Michigan, 5-10, 202
Higdon is the stand out of the North team with 224 carries for 1178 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He had a 5.3 yards-per-carry average and caught the ball seven times for 43 yards.
Dexter Williams, Notre Dame, 5-11, 215
Williams ran the ball 158 times for 995 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also registered 16 catches for 133 yards. His longest run from scrimmage was for 97 yards.
Williams will need to address questions regarding a 2016 arrest and his 2018 suspension for four games for violating team rules.
Tony Pollard, Memphis, 6-0, 208
Pollard is versatile and has been listed as both a wide receiver and running back. He carried the ball 78 times for 552 yards and six touchdowns in his final season at Memphis.
Pollard has the most receptions of the entire group with 39 for 458 yards and three touchdowns giving him 1010 all-purpose yards.