Isaac Guerendo

49ers rookie RB Guerendo turning heads early with intangible traits

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NBC Universal, Inc. “49ers Talk” hosts Jennifer Lee Chan and Matt Maiocco discuss their takeaways from Week 1 of the San Francisco 49ers offseason workout program.

SANTA CLARA — Rookie running back Issac Guerendo answered the call both literally and figuratively when the 49ers rang throughout the draft process.

The speedy ball carrier was in constant contact with running backs coach Bobby Turner, who believes that a prospect’s abilities on the field are as important as their behavior off of it. But most of all, Guerendo has one very important trait that the venerable coach knew the team needed.

“We were looking for speed,” Turner told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He has the speed and he’s bigger. He’s 221-222 pounds. We needed another fast runner in our offense. During my interview process leading up to this, the very first thing I saw on tape was the ability to break the long runs and take it to the house, hit the home run.”

Guerendo spent four seasons at the University of Wisconsin before transferring to the University of Louisville where he flourished, registering 132 rushing attempts for 810 yards, and 11 touchdowns along with 22 catches for 234 yards for the Cardinals last season.

Prior to the draft, Guerendo showed his speed to the league at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran a blistering 4.33 40-yard dash — the fastest of all running backs in attendance.

“During my interview process leading up to this,” Turner said. “The very first thing I saw on tape was the ability to break the long runs and take it to the house, hit the home run. I saw that on tape.

“I didn’t know at the time it was the fastest but knew he could run and I knew he had size. And then when I was talking to him, he is very detailed. He understood what I was asking and had the ability to explain it.”

This season will be Turner’s 52nd year as a coach and while several things have changed since he began his coaching journey, some elements remain the same. One of those is his requirement that all of his backs know the specific role of all 11 players on the field on every play.

“I also want a player to know what the person next to him is doing,” Turner said. “In other words, ‘What are the offensive line assignments? Who are the pullers? What’s their most important block on that play?’

“[Also] to be able to run with their eyes, have great vision. And then when there’s daylight there, to be able to hit the hole and make the big play. That whole ordeal, I was impressed with.”

Turner was excited to see how the 49ers used their 2024 fourth-round pick (No. 129), so much so that he called Guerendo during his first interview with the local media to tell him how happy he was for the newest member of the team.

The rookie will have a lot to prove in a very talented room that includes the reigning Offensive Player of the Year — Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason. Turner believes that speed and being coachable make Guerendo a valuable addition to the squad.

“He’s going to have to be able to do it all," Turner said. "But when you’re coachable, and I feel and know that I can coach him to get him to do the extra things even better, then he can be a better runner because we are looking for certain things.

"You just can’t throw anyone into the backfield in that system that we run. I’ve never believed that. We’ve but a lot of time and work in to get that system to work. With all that time and effort, if you have the right running back in there, then it does make it look easy.” 

Guerendo will be back on the field on Wednesday for the club's second series of OTAs.

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