Could Sermon be left off 49ers' final 53-man roster?


Running back Trey Sermon had a difficult time earning a role in the 49ers’ offense as a rookie.

And the competition has gotten only stronger this year.

The 49ers have a good group of running backs, including Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr., the team’s leading rushers for the past two seasons.

Sermon was expected to eventually take over as the team’s No. 1 rusher — at least that was the expectation when he was selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

But as he enters the second season of his career, it is fair to ask whether Sermon warrants a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
After all, the 49ers selected another running back this year in the third round of the draft. Ty Davis-Price is virtually assured of a place on the team's depth chart.

There might be room for only one more running back with Mitchell, Wilson and Davis-Price.

JaMycal Hasty was the team’s third-down back last season. He has appeared to make some strides in his game since then. And his route-running out of the backfield was on display Saturday night with his 2-yard reception from Nate Sudfeld, which accounted for the only touchdown in the 49ers’ 17-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

An argument can be made that undrafted rookie Jordan Mason has been more impressive than Sermon during training camp. Mason is a big back who has been decisive and powerful as a runner. He leads the 49ers through two preseason games with 87 yards on 15 rushing attempts (5.8-yard average).

Sermon is a talented back, for sure. There’s a reason the 49ers had him rated as a third-round talent. But the fact the 49ers felt the need to select another running back in the third round says everything you need to know.

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Although he has made improvements, there is still just enough hesitation in Sermon’s style that prevents him from getting upfield quickly and maximizing his yards in the team’s runner-friendly outside zone scheme.

Statistics in preseason games can be misleading, especially for players running behind backup offensive linemen. Still, Sermon has managed just 19 yards on 11 rushing attempts through the first two exhibition games.

It was a bit of a surprise a year ago when Sermon was deactivated for the regular-season opener against the Detroit Lions in favor of Mitchell.

It should not be a surprise now that he is in a battle just to win a roster spot.

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