The 49ers won’t have the NFL rushing leader in 2019. They won’t have a marquee back such as Saquon Barkley, Le’Veon Bell or Todd Gurley who has 20 or more carries per game.
But they will have a three-man group that could be one of the league’s best backfield combinations.
Reports that the 49ers have agreed to terms with former Atlanta Falcons standout Tevin Coleman mean that Kyle Shanahan’s offense will have a versatile, explosive trio of Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida to lead the running game and contribute to the passing offense.
Coleman is expected to get a two-year free-agent deal for as much as $10 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Coleman, at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, will be the biggest of the three. He’s coming off a season in which he played all 16 games, rushed for 800 yards and four touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 276 yards and five TDs. In his four seasons with the Falcons, the former third-round pick from Indiana averaged 4.4 yards per carry and 11 yards per reception.
Coleman also comes in familiar with Shanahan’s scheme, having played for him with the Falcons.
He’ll join McKinnon, who missed all of last season after signing a free-agent deal with the 49ers, and Breida, the former undrafted free agent who had a strong second season in 2018.
Breida, 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, rushed for 814 yards and three TDs while averaging 5.3 yards per carry last season, while also catching 27 passes. McKinnon, 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, is considered one of the best pass-catching backs in the league. Over his final two seasons with the Vikings, McKinnon had 94 catches. He also rushed for 539 and 570 yards in 2016 and 2017.
As Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee noted, the 49ers also will have another halfback-type player on the roster with special-teams ace Raheem Mostert. With McKinnon and Breida both coming off injuries, that gives the Niners plenty of depth going into training camp.
Wrote Biderman: “Shanahan has typically only had three halfbacks available on game days, but that could change in 2019 because he hasn’t had a group this talented since he came to San Francisco.”