Isaac Guerendo

How 49ers draft pick Guerendo passed RB coach Turner's tests

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SANTA CLARA — General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan made dreams come true for several prospects during the 2024 NFL Draft, but they also made 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner a happy man as well. 

The venerable and legendary position coach got his guy when the 49ers selected Louisville’s Isaac Guerendo with the No. 129 overall pick in the fourth round of the draft. The 6-foot-0, 221-pound ball carrier was the fastest running back at the NFL Scouting Combine, recording a 4.33 40-yard dash.

Turner was so excited for his new running back that he unknowingly called Guerendo in the middle of his first media availability after being drafted.

“These running backs that are interviewed by Bobby Turner, they've been through the wringer,” Lynch said with a laugh after the conclusion of the draft. “They have gotten phone calls at all hours and if they are prompt with their calls, it's a good thing, and Bobby doesn't let it tarnish his view of the kids, maybe a little bit, but we know how to weed through that. And Guerendo, he's ... excited about him.”

Guerendo is a three-time Indiana state track and field champion — winning the long jump (24-5 1/4) as a junior in high school and 100 meters (10.51) and 4x100 relay (41.28) as a senior. The former Cardinal also is smart and disciplined, earning his master’s degree in personal finance at Louisville.

“Bobby loved him from the beginning,” Shanahan said. “He called him back at all the right times. He answered his texts. I'm just telling you, if you don't do that, it's hard to come back from that with Bobby.

“We all really liked the speed part about him, but lots of guys can run. You have to be as good of a running back and the physicality he ran with how he was without the ball in his hand we felt he was a guy who played to our style and the skillset set could help us.”

There is no lack of speed on the 49ers roster but Guerendo adds to it. Shanahan was quick to clarify that speed was not a specific target in the 2024 draft but it is a necessary element for NFL success.

“We didn't make a blanket statement like that, but we wanted to add some speed to the running back room if we could,” Shanahan said. “But you don't just add that just to add it. It's got to be the right type of runner with the speed. And there were a couple of guys in the back end in the draft who had that. And this is the one we really liked in that way.”

Guerendo adds depth to the running back room that is led by the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey. The rookie will be competing with Elijah Mitchell, who will become a free agent in 2025, and Jordan Mason, who will be a restricted free agent.

“We love [Guerndo’s] speed,” Shanahan said. “We think he’s got a lot of speed. All our backs can run, but it's nice to add one who possibly can run a little bit faster just for the change of pace and things like that. We like his running style. His running style I think is similar to Elijah’s and the style that he runs with, he's built that way and like the 40 that he has.”

Guerendo spent four seasons at Wisconsin before transferring to Louisville for his final season, registering 132 carries for 810 yards and 11 touchdowns while also contributing on special teams with 11 punt returns for 211 yards, a 19.2 yard per return average. As a red-shirt junior as a Badger, Guerendo racked up 19 punt returns for 454 yards -- a whopping 23.9 yards-per-return average.

Now he will be under Turner's tutelage, which is just what the running backs wanted.

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